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December 11--  The District Attorney in the Middle Judicial Circuit of Georgia says the number of cases his office is trying has gone down in the past few years, but the number of repeat offenders is not improving.

District Attorney Hayward Altman addressed the Vidalia Kiwanis Club.

"When I first started having calender call, we'd have anywhere from 100 to 150 cases.  We're now down where we have 30 to 50 cases on each calendar in all five counties in the circuit and that's a tremendous reduction in the amount of backlog we have," he said.

The bad news is he's seeing too many people in court more than once.

"It's either going up or it's staying the same.  It's not improving.  I think the reasons are drugs primarily and the economy, a lack of jobs.  When you don't have anything to do, you go out and do bad things," he believes.

The DA is hopeful some pilot programs in other counties will start in Toombs County to fight recidivism.

"The program will hopefully be initiated soon in Toombs County that will allow us to work with individuals to give them drug counseling and job skills so maybe they won't come back in our court system," Altman said.

Altman also warns he seeing more gang-related crimes in the district.

"The Internet is a great tool for people, but it also allows local individuals access to gang members in big cities.  They are coming down in our circuit.  We've had a gang-related murder up in Jefferson County where 12 people are charged with murder.  Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, it's here," he said.