THOMSON - State budget cuts are in effect legalizing illegal drugs in Georgia, District Attorney Dennis Sanders said today.
"We've got to cut, we've got to cut," Sanders said state agencies are being told.
That means furloughs for law enforcement officers and prosecutors and prison closings, which in turn lead to fewer arrests and fewer offenders jailed for drug offenses.
"It doesn't make sense," Sanders said. "In effect we have legalized drugs in Georgia."
Sanders, whose office covers six counties, including McDuffie, spoke at a daylong seminar at Augusta Technical College's Thomson campus. Titled A Partnership Targeting Crime and Drugs, it included government officials, educators, lawyers and law enforcement personnel.
Sanders said prosecutors and law enforcement are being told by legislators that "we don't have the money." But he said the state has had the money to establish a campus of the Medical College of Georgia in Athens, give raises to Gov. Sonny Perdue's staff near the end of his term in office and a pay raise to a University of Georgia assistant football coach who was already making $90,000 a year.
At the same time, he said, there is no money for the Georgia State Patrol to operate cars at night; crime labs are being closed; training budgets are being slashed; and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is laying off personnel.
Taxpayers are applauding the cuts, he said, but eventually they will regret them.
"The public is going to be paying for it."