Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards speaks to the Dougherty County Kiwanis Club Monday regarding some of the issues his office is dealing with in terms of crime prevention and criminal justice.
ALBANY — There are a number of agencies in the community that are working to help make the Albany area a safer place.
District Attorney Greg Edwards recently gave an overview of what his office is doing to contribute to that cause.
For starters, Edwards said his office, with the help of three supervising attorneys, processed roughly 2,000 Superior Court cases and 1,200 Juvenile Court cases in 2010.
At a Dougherty County Kiwanis meeting Monday, Edwards added that one of the issues plaguing the community in which his office is looking at is teen pregnancy. Specifically, his office is looking at how teen pregnancy impacts the criminal justice system.
“It’s an important issue in the criminal justice arena,” Edwards said. “There are a lot of good teen mothers out there, but in a lot of instances, teen moms don’t have the resources to prevent children from (entering the criminal justice system).
“We need to do what we can to deal with that issue.”
School enrollment is also something monitored from a crime prevention standpoint, the district attorney said.
“It is required that children ages 6-16 attend school, and (making sure children are in school) is one of the responsibilities of the district attorney’s office,” Edwards said. “About 90 percent of the people sitting in jail now are high school dropouts.”
That is an issue Edwards said his office is actively working with area school system officials on to ensure parents are sending their children to school, and that children are getting there on time.
In terms of criminal justice, Edwards added that suppressing the gang activity in Albany is another thing his office is focusing on. This is following an operation that ended six months ago with roughly 50 Crips gang members ending up in jail, if they were not there already.
“There is no more Crips activity in Dougherty County,” Edwards said.
There are five gangs active in the area, with authorities looking at 600 people in Albany connected to those gangs, Edwards said.
Edwards also mentioned his office’s continued involvement with the Lily Pad Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Center to help prosecute abuse cases, as well the benefits of a day reporting center — something officials had discussed last year.
“(The day reporting center) would provide an alternative to incarceration,” Edwards said. “We want to do what we can to prevent re-entry into the system and have a cost-effective alternative to incarceration.
“It costs $50 a day to house someone in jail.”
Elder abuse was also something Edwards touched on.
“We have a growing population of senior citizens,” he said. “At some point, this problem is going to get big.
“We are working with SOWEGA (Council on Aging) to look at issues that come out of that.”
Edwards also noted that, in the past, it was typical for 1,000 people to be in the Dougherty County Jail. Now there are roughly 800, which he said suggests a decrease in crime. Additionally, he said, his office has maintained a conviction rate of 96 percent.
He ended his presentation with a few words of advice on how to be involved in the effort of getting crime activity under control.
“Be alert in your daily activities,” he said. “Also, report activity. Some people don’t want to get involved, but if you get involved, that helps the whole process.
“Organize neighborhood watches. Watching neighbors is the best way to prevent crime. And come to jury duty, because it ultimately saves money if a case is resolved quickly.”