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Why Ga. opioid crisis ‘knows no geographic economic or demographic boundary’

(AP Photo/Patrick Sison)
(AP Photo/Patrick Sison)(Patrick Sison | AP)
Updated: May. 29, 2021 at 9:00 AM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Opioid overdoses have been up in the past year across the nation, and Georgia is no exception.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said during the pandemic, state officials have seen more people either start or restart addictive behavior.

“This is a crisis that knows no geographic economic or demographic boundary. It has impacted everybody, and we’ve got to do all that we can to get out help to those who need it,” said Carr.

He said the statewide Opioid Task Force works to provide resources to those struggling with addiction.

One of his focuses is to get resources outside urban areas.

“One of the things that we’ve seen is that if you’re in a non-urban area, your opportunity for rehabilitation goes down dramatically,” said Carr.

He said there are times when medical use for opioids is done right, but in some cases, the system is taken advantage of.

“We actually filed a lawsuit against manufacturers and distributors. We said that the manufacturers knew that these pills were addictive and that opioids were more addictive than they led on. Distributors had a duty to monitor suspect orders,” said Carr.

Carr hopes coming out of the pandemic will reduce some of these addictions and overdoses.

He said another big issue in Georgia is gangs. He says kids as young as fourth grade are being recruited into gangs.

His office put together an anti-gang network to stop recruitment efforts. This network combines federal and state law enforcement. They talk about ways to improve intelligence sharing and identify successful programs.

He says 157 out of Georgia’s 159 counties have identified gang activity.

“It’s not just a metro urban issue. It’s all over the state of Georgia, and again Gang’s account for over 50% of all violent crime… We’ve got to take the violent criminals off the street so that communities can be safe.” said Carr.

Carr said Georgia has one of the best gang statutes in the nation. He says the state and federal governments communicate to maximize opportunities to stop violent crimes.

Some recent cases where the death penalty is being sought include the Ally Johnson case in Tifton, the Janiyah Brooks case in Albany, and the Moore/Hackle case in Berrien County.

Carr said often these types of cases involving the death penalty can take years.

He said it’s the job of the Attorney General’s Office to make sure families are given updates every six months on where the cases stand.

“15, 20, or 25 years for a case to finally resolve and that can be very frustrating. So, I think it’s important for our office to have a point of contact to make it easier at least to get information about what is going on in a particular individual’s case and try to provide as much comfort as you possibly can,” said Carr.

Carr said five cases are on death row, with all appeals exhausted.

The COVID-19 pandemic stopped the process for those cases because they’re limiting traffic going through facilities.

Carr said when the public health emergency expires, the process will start up again.

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