Kevin Sproul, Dougherty County Sheriff, says he sees education as key to reducing crime in Dougherty County. Sproul has implemented a program where inmates may pursue completion of their GED certificates while incarcerated.
ALBANY -- The first of four planned citywide forums focusing on crime in Albany and Dougherty County was presented by the Taking Authority Stop the Violence group at Albany State University's ACAD Auditorium yesterday. The anti-crime organization hosted a nine-member panel, including an elected official, law enforcement authorities, government administrators and community leaders.
Although a stated primary purpose of the forum was to have parents and other interested people come together to discuss crime solutions, only some 100 people were in attendance and had little interaction with panel members.
"Our theme," said Stop the Violence Chairman Bishop Frederick Williams, "is 'Crime -- We All Pay', and certainly the theme itself speaks volumes."
Dougherty County Sheriff, Kevin Sproul, began with some less than encouraging news concerning trends of arrests and incarcerations.
"As of yesterday, the Dougherty County Jail had 849 inmates locked up," Sproul said. "Just a few months ago we'd gotten that figure down to 750. We're trying everything we can to reduce the population of the jail and where we're seeing a big problem is people who get assigned to probation can't stay out. They're violating their probation and coming back."
Part of Sproul's hope for a reduction in local crime is to make education easier to obtain, even for those who find themselves in jail or prison, he said. To that end, he has initiated a program where inmates may be able to complete their GEDs while serving their sentences. According to Sproul, three inmates have graduated the program during the past year with 25 currently involved in obtaining their certificates. Sproul said he didn't want his time as sheriff to be judged by how many people he'd locked up.
"We see education as such a necessity and so many of our inmates begin by dropping out of middle school or high school and continue to come back over," Sproul said. "As you all know, without an education you have a very slim chance of making it in this world."
Ward 5 Commissioner Gloria Gaines, saw the answer to high crime rates not in education but in returning to former family values and parental responsibilities.
"To raise your child has nothing to do with education," Gaines said. "It has everything to do with parenting. If you don't send those kids (to school) ready to learn, they are simply not going to learn."
Williams said additional quarterly forums will be held in the west, south and north sections of Albany.