DOUGHERTY CO., GA (WALB) - After 21 homicides this year in Albany, Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards told city commissioners that gangs and drugs were behind the majority of these violent deaths.
Two men who know Albany streets from the other side of the law agreed that it's true. And that they believe the break down of the family in Albany is behind the violence becoming more deadly.
Eric King and Edrik Price are inmates in the Dougherty County Jail, but Sheriff Kevin Sproul recognizes them as model leaders for the other inmates.
Both men grew up on Albany's streets and said they are horrified by the number of violent homicides.
"It comes from gangs and drugs," explained King. "And that's when the youth pick up guns."
"You either going to be dead or in prison," said Price.
King said the 21 hearse parade that Coroner Michael Fowler sponsored really touched him. He knew two of the murder victims.
"I'm tired of looking at the news and I see y'all saying that we got another death here in Albany," said King. "I don't want one of these days it be my brother."
Price and King are behind bars awaiting trial, but lead Bible studies in the Dougherty County Jail and counsel young inmates.
They both said they believe the lack of fathers in many Albany homes is leading to crime and even murder.
"Exactly. A lot of homes are broken homes," explained Price. "Kids being left by themselves."
King said he believes boys have to have a father figure in the home to teach them right from wrong.
"Tell them to say no to drugs. Tell them to say no to joining the gangs," King said. "Because that is a destruction of your life."
Both men said gangs and drug dealers look for boys with no father in the home and offer a role model in the wrong direction.
"They going to use the young ones, the innocent minds to push the little ones up to do what they wouldn't do," explained Price. "Like the breaking into cars, this and that, stealing drugs."
Sproul said he agrees after seeing generations of young men raised without fathers locked up in his jail.
"Drugs run from one generation to the next. Gangs, sometimes the gang members are generational," said Sproul. "And I want to break that cycle."
Both Price and King have kids of their own now, walking Albany's streets, and they said they are afraid one of them could end up in a hearse because of gangs or drugs and violence.
That's why they wanted to put out this message.
"Only thing I want to do is make the streets of Dougherty County a better place for my kids to walk," King said. "Keep the drugs out of the street. The gangs, you know."
And both men said the only way to make those streets safer is to have fathers stay in the home with their children, teaching young people violence is not the answer.
Both King and Price wrote letters to Albany city leaders. They both immediately start the letters writing about their children and their concerns for their safety and the future of Albany, especially if the homicide count continues to increase.
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