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Hood says attorney general
can help fight crime

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
September 29, 2003
Jim Hood, 41, is the Democratic nominee for state attorney general and is currently district attorney for the 3rd Circuit Court District, covering seven counties in north Mississippi.
His past experience as a prosecutor includes eight years in his current position and five years as assistant attorney general. He discussed his campaign for attorney general with The Meridian Star last week.
The Meridian Star: What attracted you to the job of attorney general?
Jim Hood: You can help a lot of people. By working in the attorney general's office, I learned that before. Every day there is somebody whether it be a victim or someone in state government, you are helping people. I guess it goes to my own philosophical underpinnings that God put us on earth to help other people and this is my way of doing that.
Lawyers don't have a very good chance of helping many people normally, that's what most people believe about our reputations. But the area I chose is public service with my clerkship at the Supreme Court, my work in the attorney general's office and as a district attorney. That's what I'd rather do with my education.
The Star: Is there anything in particular that you think you would bring to the office based on your experience?
Hood: Yes. As a district attorney I know what D.A.'s need to prosecute cases. D.A.'s are on the front line in the battle against crime. The attorney general can fill a lot of gaps. As a D.A. I know what those gaps are. One is identity theft, that's a crime we are going to see so much more of where they clean peoples' bank accounts out.
First you have to make sure there are, in fact, victims. Some people will claim someone stole their identity when in fact it was them. We need a secure Web site that many of these credit bureaus can call into and make that determination. We can also give the victims packets that help them get their credit back on the right track. Then you have to get out here and enforce it. You have to drag some of those folks back using our wire fraud statutes, because most of it occurs through fraudulent telemarketers who will get a Social Security number or a credit card number from someone who is elderly and they clean their accounts out.
Those types of crimes, child Internet pornography and fraudulent telemarketers are areas where … if we set a good example, the word will get out to those folks.
The Star: In what other ways do you think the attorney general's office can better help local prosecutors?
Hood: School safety and work place safety. A.G.s can help with curriculum, for example, with the school watch programs where children are taught how and where to report a potentially violent offender. And we can do the same thing in the work place.
Those are things the A.G. can do in prevention. It helps the D.A., it helps local law enforcement, and it helps the community. Doing work in Boys and Girls Clubs is prevention.
Other areas the A.G. can help in is rehabilitation and treatment. I learned a lot in the war on crime while working with Mike Moore when he was appointed by former President Bush for the Commission on Model State Drug Laws, and I was the staff person on the drug enforcement area, and I traveled around the nation with him. These panels would come up and you would see what was working in different communities from people in law enforcement, the medical profession, treatment a vast array of people.
Those prevention programs were the biggest bang for the buck. I have a passion for those types of issues.
The Star: If you are elected, what will be your top priority?
Hood: Trying to cut down on the number of violent offenses. The A.G. is not on the front line in that case. We like to talk about going out there, locking them up and stopping the violent offenses. The A.G. can do some things through helping with the Legislature. I know we need someone in the A.G.'s office to help draft law enforcement legislation and get things through the system.
I think this year we can pass a statute where if you commit an offense with a firearm you do an additional five years. I think we need to make a statement. The feds who have had that statute for a while don't deal with that many violent offenses. We do.