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Sheriff speaks out against house bill one

Posted at 6:11 PM, Feb 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-22 13:27:55-05

BAINBRIDGE, Ga. (WTXL)--House bill one causing a lot of concern for sheriffs across the state.

We take a closer look at the measure lawmakers are proposing and why law enforcers say it could put a squeeze on budgets and your safety.

Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin says when they arrest drug offenders it's not the time spent in jail that's hurts them it's the property they take.

"Our drug dealers are not worried about the jail system," said Sheriff Griffin. "They continue to come back to jail our recidivism rate is more than 70 percent. Our jails are full."

Changes could be coming to the law that they say they depend on to fight the drug problem.

"If house bill one passes it's not only going to devastate the county taxpayer because their taxes will be going up, it will also take away the biggest tool we have in our tool box to fight the war on drugs," said Griffin.

The property seized in drug cases is often auctioned off. Sheriff Griffin says they've use that money to purchase bullet proof vests, and equipment like cameras to keep people safe.

"The bottom line is that it will make it easier for drug dealers to keep the assets they bought with illegal drug profits," said Griffin.

He says under this law their forfeited drug funds would be reduced. We also talked to Thomasville-Thomas County Narcotics Commander Lt. Kevin Lee, who says his worry is that it would make it harder to seize weapons like handguns that they're finding a lot more of in drug raids.

The bill is still waiting in the judiciary committee. We're told a vote could be taken up Tuesday.