Cono Caranna And Tom Payne Debate On Inmate Abuse Investigation

Keep cases in house or hand them over to the federal government, it's the question the district attorney candidates view quite differently. Especially in the case of the inmate abuse trial decided in federal court just last month.

"We should be the quality team that goes in and investigates and prosecutes cases,we locally can take care of our own problems. I'm tired of the federal government stepping in to clean up our mess," said Tom Payne, District Attorney candidate.

"We saw the actions of Teel and the inactions of the others which showed us we had a larger problem so we needed that investigation.  We had the right people, and we got the right results," said Cono Caranna, District Attorney.

Incumbent Caranna also said he sought legislative changes so future cases could be prosecuted under tougher state laws. But, he admitted that he ran into some obstacles.

"They (Legislators) did not give that to me, and I'll be back to the legislation asking for that again," said Caranna.

Payne, however, says the District Attorney's office had the tools but didn't show up to use them.

"I would have made sure that I, as the district attorney of Harrison County, would have gone in and investigated that case thoroughly.  We have the resources," says Payne.

When it comes to just how many cases the District Attorney's office has taken on, the two candidates came up with very different numbers.

"In the last year, we have tried 22 cases," said Caranna.

"I looked at the circuit clerk records for 2006 and it showed the District Attorney's office tried three cases," said Payne.

"It's remarkable someone who wants to be district attorney can't find out how many cases we've tried.  They are orders entered in each of the 22 cases tried in circuit court," said Caranna.

Regardless of how the numbers add up, the fate of who wins is in the hands of the voters come November.