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Dougherty Co. to use $2M grant to get through backlog of violent crime cases

Video from WALB
Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 5:14 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Dougherty County is getting $2 million in hopes to address the backlog of cases in the judicial system.

The American Rescue Plan Funding will specifically focus on serious violent offenses.

Chief Judge Willie Lockette said the majority of these funds will go toward hiring personnel. Since these are serious violent crimes, they will need more security and investigators.

Lockette said after getting the grant, they had to rethink their strategy of addressing the backlog of cases.

Originally, the circuit was asking for $6.6 million to use the Albany Civic Center to host trials. They needed that space because of COVID-19 protocols, as many cases have multiple defendants involved.

Chief Judge Willie Lockette said the majority of these funds will go toward hiring personnel....
Chief Judge Willie Lockette said the majority of these funds will go toward hiring personnel. Since these are serious violent crimes, they will need more security and investigators.(WALB)

“Right now, we have 146 cases with 303 defendants. We have a number of cases that involve as many as 14 defendants, all charged with murder,” said Lockette.

Lockette said for the next year, they are devoting themselves to cases that are serious, violent felonies. Crimes like murder, armed robbery, rape, kidnapping, aggravated battery, aggravated child molestation and aggravated sodomy.

“Other cases are going to have to be put on the back burner and we realize there could be some flak from that. We’ll do the best we can not to leave those matters unattended,” said Lockette.

Right now, they are only allowing one judge to try cases. Lockette said by April, they’re hoping to have two, trying cases at the same time while still complying with covid restrictions.

With a population that’s decreasing and crime rates increasing, Lockette said they’re approaching the threshold to request an additional judge.

“We’re a hotspot to be quite frank with you for serious violent crime. That’s an issue we have to address as best we can,” said Lockette.

He said Dougherty County is not unique, but that crime rising is a national problem.

The county can ask for additional funds in the future but the $2 million they’ve been awarded right now is for one year.

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