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Crime top concern
for Hood, Newton

By By Terry R. Cassreino / assistant managing editor
Sept. 28, 2003
Fighting violent crime will be the top priority for Democrat Jim Hood or Republican Scott Newton when one of them is elected Mississippi's next attorney general in November.
Hood, a North Mississippi district attorney and a former assistant state attorney general, said he would assign attorneys from his office to work with local prosecutors to break the logjam of cases.
Newton, a former federal prosecutor and FBI agent, said he would staff satellite offices in DeSoto County, Tupelo, Meridian and the Coast with his own investigators and prosecutors to support local law officers and district attorneys.
Newton and Hood discussed their plans and campaign proposals in separate interviews last week with The Meridian Star editorial board. The two meet in the Nov. 4 general election.
At stake is Mississippi's top legal officer and adviser, a job that pays $108,960. The winner will replace four-term Attorney General Mike Moore, who is not seeking re-election.
The Hood-Newton race so far has been waged behind-the-scenes both campaigns have issued news release after news release touting their proposals while questioning their opponent's record.
Newton outlined his priorities last week at a news conference in Jackson. Among his proposals are ones to create a task force to work on unsolved murders and a unit that targets cyber crimes.
Hood outlined his own 10-point plan in a series of news conferences across the state nearly three weeks ago. Hood's plans calls for helping crime victims, make schools safer and reduce drug abuse.
Hood and Newton disagree strongly on at least one issue: civil justice reform and lawsuit abuse.
Newton said lawsuit abuse limits access to quality health care and forces businesses to close. He vowed to work with the governor, lieutenant governor and legislators to draft laws that eliminate those problems.
But Hood said he doesn't see crafting civil justice reforms as a responsibility of the attorney general a job whose main areas include defending state agencies and laws when sued in court.

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