Zone 2 Community Prosecutor Tiffany Harlow, assigned to Buckhead by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, used as a point for conversation about why career criminals remain roaming the street in Buckhead and elsewhere in Atlanta.
Speaking at the , Harlow said that career criminals often end up back on the street because judges are too sparing.
"We've had a problem lately with some of the judges being pretty lenient on punishment," she said.
Harlow explained she used the recent arrests in Buckhead to produce recommendations to begin prosecuting these cases and take them "all the way."
"We are not gonna take easy pleas anymore," she said.
Burglaries have been reported steadily in Zone 2 and Harlow said that she takes them all seriously.
"Residential burglaries are the most important for us because these are your homes, but these commercial burglaries are also a critical area for us."
Harlow said that one way to make sure criminals are adequately sentenced is for the public, especially victims of the crimes, to get involved.
She agreed with NPU-B chair Sally Silver, who said it is important that citizens show up as interested participants in the process to let judges know to be serious in their sentencing and not let these criminals back out so soon. Silver said the main problem in Zone 2 seems to be the sentencing of the career criminals who get back out on the street and commit more crimes.
“You may not be a victim this time, but you may be next on the list," Silver said. "We can't complain about crime and how easy the judges are if we aren't willing to sit in court."
The victims of these crimes often don't show up to court either, Harlow said, which further hinders sentencing. Many times, the victims are reimbursed by insurance or some other way and choose to not get involved any further.
"It is imperative that victims show. They are given the opportunity to speak in court in front of the judge and explain what this has meant to them and why they feel this person should serve time," Harlow said.
One way citizens can get involved is through the District Attorney’s Citizens’ Court Watch program, which allows the opportunity to attend the hearings of those accused of crimes in their neighborhoods, and to follow the accused through the criminal justice system. The traditional Citizens’ Court Watch focuses on specific crimes in each police zone, with Community Prosecutors directing their attention to those of importance to their zone’s communities and neighborhoods.
Do you feel judges have been too lenient in their sentencing of these career criminals? Are you willing to get involved in the Court Watch program? Let us know in the comments below.