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DA gets tough on thieves, burglars

Convicted felons that do the crime will now have to do the time.

Since January, anyone convicted of burglary, theft or receiving stolen goods in Lowndes County is automatically sentenced to a mandatory 12 months in prison, said District Attorney John Andrews.

“In the past, if a person was a first-time offender, we would give them probation. Well, we’ve found out probation doesn’t work for a lot of these people. We have too many repeat offenders, and we are tired of it,” Andrews said.

The rising number of home burglaries and thefts across the 2nd Judicial Circuit was the impetus for the tougher stance.

“You know, home is where you should be able to relax, kick your shoes off and be comfortable. People work their fingers to the bone for their possessions and they shouldn’t have to worry about somebody coming in there and taking it,” Andrews said.

The district attorney said he hoped spending time behind bars with hardened criminals would make some young offenders realize this is not the life they want to live.

“For some it won’t make any difference. They like prison fine. But if we can keep just one person from living this kind of life, it will be worth it,” Andrews said.

He said those inmates who “keep their noses clean and stay out of trouble” can apply after a few months to be considered for the Community Corrections Program through Circuit Judge Ed McFerrin.

“But there is no more automatic probation, no matter how clean your record was. Yes, you may very well lose your job if you have one when you are sentenced. But you don’t need to be out taking what isn’t yours if you want to keep your job,” Andrews said.