Coweta County is faced with a gang problem like many communities, unfortunately. Ironically, throwing gangsters in jail isn’t the solution alone.
It was stunning to read a news story by reporter Clay Neely in Saturday’s edition how one member of the Bloods gang, Devonte Derelle Jennings, resorted to violent extortion of other inmates.
Last fall, Jennings demanded “rent” from a new inmate to be paid with inmate-store goods, portions of meals or credits that can be used for making phone calls. Two years ago, another Blood, Douglas Dukes, beat a fellow inmate who refused to use similar items to pay for protection.
In both instances, successful prosecution led to extended incarceration, 30 years for Jennings and 20 for Dukes.
Our local prosecutors are to be commended for making full use of the Georgia Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act to add time to the sentences of both felons.
As Assistant District Attorney Herb Cranford wisely observes, “If we don’t stop and punish this kind of activity inside the jail, the message they get is ‘they can’t stop us in jail, they sure can’t stop us outside.’”
And we are not stopping them on the outside. Since 2014, 45 people here have been convicted of gang charges, and all but five got prison time for it.
Sociologists tell us there are many causes of gang activity. As a community we must confront all of them. Just locking up every person who falls into the gang trap is wasteful in terms of tax money and human capital.