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Georgia prosecutors form new group to combat crime

August 12, 2021 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — District attorneys from some of Georgia’s largest counties launched a new group on Thursday to combat rising crime around the state.

The Urban District Attorney Coalition aims to share ideas on a variety of criminal justice issues, including how to fight gang violence, engage witnesses and victims and give young and nonviolent offenders an alternative to prosecution.

“We love our communities, but we know in order for our communities to be better, we have to make them safe,” Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Broady said at a news conference announcing the group.

Other district attorneys in the group include metro Atlanta prosecutors Fani Willis and Sherry Boston, Anita Howard from Macon and Mark Jones from Columbus, among numerous others.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and other Republican lawmakers have focused in recent months on rising crime, particularly in Democrat-controlled Atlanta. Many Republicans ahead of the 2022 elections are trying to make the case that voters shouldn’t trust Democrats on crime.

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Broady, vice-chair of the new coalition, said crime was up in areas controlled by Democrats and Republicans, and he didn’t want to politicize the issue.

“We’re not here to play the blame game,” said Howard, who chairs the group. “We are here to find solutions.”

District Attorney Jared Williams from Augusta said part of the group’s focus was on using “data-driven policies” to prevent crime. He cited early childhood intervention as an example and said the policies may not always be politically popular.

“The criminal justice system cannot fix all the problems,” he said. “It can’t necessarily fix the poverty problem. It can’t necessarily fix the mental health problem. But what we can do is make sure we’re not getting in the way.”

The group’s first meeting was hosted by Willis, who said it was important that local district attorneys support each other.

“We’re all facing the same problems,” she said.