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AG candidate wants protection for victims

Prosecuting criminals and protecting victims tops Jim Hood’slist of priorities as he seeks the state’s top law enforcementposition this year.

During a stop in Brookhaven Friday, Hood, district attorney forthe Third Circuit Court District, touted his prosecution record anda 10-point plan to make the state safer.

In his eight years as DA, the Democrat said he has obtained over4,400 convictions in the seven-county district. Of those, 3,200defendants were incarcerated.

“A lot of them pled open, without us making a recommendation,”said Hood, discussing defendants who opted not to go to trial intheir cases.

While dealing strongly with criminals, Hood also can lend asympathetic ear to victims.

In addition to adding a victims assistance coordinator in hisoffice, Hood created a handbook and established a telephone hotlineto help victims. He was the recipient of the state 2003 victimsadvocate award.

Hood said his interest in helping victims stemmed from a 1976incident in which his first cousin was murdered.

“It was near and dear to my heart, knowing how victims felt,”Hood said.

If elected attorney general, Hood said he wants to create avictims assistance unit to keep them informed about their cases. Helamented victims sometimes having to find out through the media thestatus of the defendant’s appeal in their cases.

“We want to make it so that victims are called and are informedabout what happened,” Hood said.

Also, working closely with law enforcement, child advocacy andvictims groups can help influence pending legislation to strengthenlaws that may affect them, Hood said.

Hood, who faces Republican Scott Newton in the November generalelection, said the attorney general’s office is not on the frontlines of combating violent and other forms of crime. However, hesaid the office can still help law enforcement.

“The AG can play a back up role to assist the DAs,” said Hood,mentioning providing assistant AGs to help areas that havebacklogged cases.

Reducing drug abuse is another aspect of Hood’s plan for theAG’s office. He advocated strong punishment for drug dealers, buthelp for those with addictions.

Hood said 200 defendants from Calhoun County alone are serving10-year sentences or more on sale of cocaine or crystalmethamphetamine charges.

“We have hammered them in communities where we’ve had problemsand sent them off to the penitentiary for a long time,” Hoodsaid.

For other defendants facing drug-related charges, Hood proposeda house arrest program. In it, the defendants work to pay for drugtreatment, get exposure to faith-based programs and also develop awork ethic through their participation in the program.

“They change and are given the chance to not do the same thingsthey did before,” Hood said.

In the war on drugs, however, Hood said there are other bulletsbesides incarceration.

“Prevention is the cheapest bang for our buck in the war oncrime,” Hood said.

Hood mentioned working with Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls clubs andother youth groups on prevention and drug education efforts.

“The stats show if you prevent it on the front end, you don’thave to deal with it later,” Hood said.

Other aspects of Hood’s plan include fostering safer schools andworkplaces, fighting public corruption, consumer protectionefforts, combating computer crimes, reducing domestic violence andaggressive collection of child support and deadbeat parentprosecution.

Protection of the elderly from physical abuse and from identitytheft is another part of Hood’s plan.

In his district, Hood said he had used wire fraud statutes toprotect elderly from credit card and identify theft by out-of-statepeople. He planned to continue those efforts as AG.

“That’s one are we can set an example on,” Hood said.