Chatham County’s district attorney responds to lawmakers proposal to create oversight committee

Chatham County (Georgia) District Attorney’s Office
Chatham County (Georgia) District Attorney’s Office(WTOC)
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 9:30 PM EST
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Chatham County’s district attorney is responding to a call for oversight on people in her position.

Georgia lawmakers want to create a state commission to investigate district attorneys and make it easier for voters to remove them from office.

Representative Jesse Petrea from Savannah co-sponsored the two new bills, saying he joined the effort after a WTOC investigation found the Chatham County district attorney’s office was cutting deals with convicted killers to release them from jail on probation.

Chatham County District Attorney Shalena Cook Jones responded to criticism from Petrea, saying:

“For hundreds of years, prosecutors have had unfettered discretion to decide who they wanted to charge, what they wanted to charge and what penalties they thought were appropriate. Back then, prosecutorial oversight was unheard of and no one thought to question it, even though it was clear that there was a direct link between this discretion and the over-incarceration of Georgia’s poor, black, brown and disabled people. No one questioned it then. So, what’s changed? Now that the largest DA’s offices in this state are run by men and women of color, like myself, all of a sudden some Georgia lawmakers seem to think that we need extra supervision- in addition to the disciplinary and ethical cannons that are already in place to address prosecutorial misconduct. Given the timing, political context, and history of this profession, the motive is patently obvious. These bills are not based in ethics, public safety or justice. They’re fueled by power and, specifically, those who’ve lost it and will stop at nothing to get it back. The voters put me here to pursue Justice, and that’s what I intend to do- whether these bills pass or not.”