SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Chatham County voters are having to decide if they want to keep current District Attorney Meg Heap or give Shalena Cook Jones an opportunity to serve in the role.
Shalena Cook Jones has experience with the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office working as a Special Victims Prosecutor. She calls it one of the most important roles in the DA’s office because it serves the vulnerable populations, like crimes against the elderly, children, and women. She says she would like to continue protecting the most vulnerable communities and prosecuting the cases that create unrest in the community.
Jones not only wants to prosecute the cases but also focus on crime prevention.
“By diverting and preventing those crimes from entering the criminal justice system and also crime reduction to lower recidivism and making our communities more safe,” says Jones.
Jones says Chatham County is a diverse area and she wants to make sure that’s reflected in the District Attorney’s Office.
Incumbent Meg Heap spoke on why she would like to continue her role.
Heap was elected Chatham District Attorney in 2012. If she is re-elected, this will be her third term.
Heap says when she first entered office, she worked to re-establish relationships with local and federal law enforcement. She says the victims have always been her focus, so she created a special victim’s unit and put a deputy chief in charge to help the most vulnerable communities, which include children and elderly victims of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and homicides.
“We go over the most violent offenders. I have a great team of people. We have over a 90-percent conviction rate of the most violent offenders. So, that’s my focus. We have to get the most violent offenders off the streets. My other focus is how do we stop people from entering into the criminal justice system,” says Heap.
Heap says she also started a pretrial diversion program which includes misdemeanors, felonies, and pre-warrants. She says the program will help nonviolent first-time offenders and expunge their records, so it holds them accountable but doesn’t keep them from moving on.