Dougherty County District Attorney's Office Pilot Programs and Initiatives
The Honorable Gregory W. Edwards and the personnel of the Dougherty County District Attorney's Office not only prosecute criminal cases but they are also pro-active in the community. The District Attorney has developed general policies, procedures, and specialized programs on the premise that the criminal justice system has three components that must be implemented and sustained; these components are:
- Prevention - Where all governmental agencies work together in a coordinated manner with civic, service, and faith based organizations to educate and guide our youth away from criminal lifestyles.
- Intervention- Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors working in appropriate coordinated task forces to swiftly deal with criminal offenders.
- Re-entry- Mindful that most offenders will return to society, appropriate means must be coordinated to assure that they are counseled, educated, and reoriented to not re-offend and to become productive citizens in our community.
District Attorney Edwards believes that the most important of these components is in the prevention of crimes before they occur. Accordingly, the Dougherty County District Attorney’s Office has engaged in and supports various pilot programs and initiatives aimed primarily at the prevention of crime.
Student Attendance Review Board (S.A.R.B)
Education is a major factor in the prevention of criminal activity and the District Attorney's office is taking steps to help the youth of the community achieve the goal of a obtaining a quality education.
Initiated in 1998 by former District Attorney Ken Hodges and former Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Green and continued by Greg Edwards, the Student Attendance Review Board (S.A.R.B.) is a partnership between the Dougherty County Office of the District Attorney and the Dougherty County School System specifically designed to address the problem of school truancy. In the State of Georgia, school attendance is mandatory for any child between the ages of 6 to 16. It is well recognized that truancy is a major precursor to juvenile delinquency and adult criminality. The S.A.R.B. approach is one of prevention and intervention, holding parents and students accountable for excessive school absences, whether excused or unexcused.
The Board, which convenes every other month, consists of specialist representatives of the Dougherty County School System and an Assistant District Attorney from the District Attorney's office. Based on a referral received from school counselors, the student is summonsed to appear at the meeting along with his or her parent or guardian. The meetings are closed to the public as confidential academic, personal and legal information about the juvenile is presented. After considering the parent/student explanations for the reported absences, the Board has the option of providing a referral for whatever school, medical or community assistance is needed, placing the parent/child under and attendance contract, or referring the student and/or parent for prosecution in juvenile or adult court.
The goals of the program are to improve school attendance through parental and child accountability, addressing attendance problems at the earliest possible time before the child's behavior is ingrained and while the parent still exercises control over the child (pre-high school) and long term reduction of delinquency, adult criminality and joblessness.
Preventing Teen Alcohol Abuse
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Alcohol is generally the first drug used and abused by teens. This abuse of alcohol by teens leads to a myriad of criminal, social, and health problems. Accordingly, Greg Edwards has given special attention to this issue by direct presentations to organizations that focus on youth development and presentations to the general public in a continuing effort to illuminate this threat to youth.
Preventing Elder Abuse
America’s general population is aging and accordingly there will be more persons that will be designated as senior citizens and more instances where such citizens will be exposed to circumstances where abuse might come about. The Dougherty District Attorney’s office is taking an affirmative stance in working toward preventing and intervening in this area by the establishment of a specialized Elder Abuse Prosecution Team; this team of prosecutors and investigators works directly with law enforcement, to act both in providing information to the public and engaging in the investigation and prosecution of offenders.
The foregoing pilot programs and initiatives are an integral part of the overall mission of Dougherty County District Attorney’s Office to seek the truth, protect our citizens, and to insure that justice is served. The District Attorney welcomes any and all input and support from the public regarding these issues and others.