State Initiatives: Georgia
In, Georgia, 1 in 13 adults is under some form of correctional control: either on probation or parole, or behind bars.i This is the highest rate in the nation – the national average is 1 in 31.ii About 1 in 70 Georgia adults are behind bars. Georgia spends more than $1 billion per year on its prison system that houses approximately 53,000 inmates.iii Corrections costs have grown five-fold since 1985.iv Longer sentences have driven Georgia’s prison growth. For instance, the average inmate released in 2009 on a drug possession charge spent 21 months locked up, compared with 10 months in 1990.v
Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) says his colleagues need to take a closer look at the cost-effectiveness of their programs, stating: “I don’t think we ought to let public safety depend on getting a bargain basement price, but I think we do have to be conscious of the cost of incarceration.” He added, “I think the dialogue has already started.”
Ralston notes that he is a strong supporter of Georgia’s drug courts, an accountability and treatment approach for substance abuse offenders overseen by a judge.vi He said that cops and prosecutors tell him Georgia needs more discretion in the courtroom and more alternatives to prison.vii
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich urged Georgia policymakers to make improvements in the state’s corrections system in a March 2010 op-ed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution co-authored with former Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley, stating in part:
“If two-thirds of public school students dropped out, or two-thirds of all bridges built collapsed within three years, would citizens tolerate it? The people of Georgia would never stand for that kind of failure. But that is exactly what is happening all across the U.S. in our prison systems. Last year, some 20,000 people were released from Georgia's prisons to re-enter our communities. If trends of the past decade continue, two-thirds of them will be rearrested within three years. That failure rate is a clear and present threat to public safety. Not only is this revolving door a threat to public safety, but it results in an increasing burden on each and every taxpayer.”viii
In 2012, Georgia tackled these challenges by passing a major reform package. The package prioritizes Georgia’s limited prison space for the most serious offenders by creating a new system of graduated sanctions for burglary, forgery, theft, and simple drug possession. Low-level, first time offenders are punished using community supervision alternatives, and prison space is reserved for more serious and habitual offenders. The reform package also improved probation by, among other things, strengthening the state’s drug treatment programs, accountability courts, and electronic monitoring. The package also improves data collection so that the state may better measure the performance of the criminal justice system. The bill, HB 1176, passed both chambers unanimously (162-0 in the House, 51-0 in the Senate), and was signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal on May 2, 2012.
i Carrie Teegardin and Bill Rankin, “A Billion Dollar Burden or Justice,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 23 Sept. 2010.
viii Newt Gingrich and Mark Earley, “Cutting Recidivism Saves Money and Lives,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 24 Mar. 2010.
Georgia Public Policy Foundation on reforming the criminal justice system
In this article, GPPF discusses the significance of offender rehabilitation, quoting convicted murderer Aakeem Woodard. “It is impossible to let a person go five-to-six years in prison and expect that person to rehabilitate himself and begin that process six months before you come home.” GPPF also authored the article “Tearing Down Invisible Prison Walls Created [...]:: Read More
State criminal justice reforms in action
Posted in Adult Probation, Georgia, Law Enforcement, Ohio, Parole and Re-Entry, Priority Issues, Prisons, ROC Blog, South Dakota, State Initiatives, Substance Abuse, Texas, The Criminal Justice Challenge: October 17, 2013 by Right on Crime
This new ROC infographic gives the facts about criminal justice in Texas and proves that our reforms are effective. Check out the infographic below and and click here to read more about state-level reforms. [Click here to enlarge infographic]:: Read More
Vikrant Reddy: “Three myths about conservatives and criminal justice”
Vikrant Reddy details 3 myths about conservatives and criminal justice – and proves why they aren’t true. Read the whole article here.:: Read More
James Madison Institute “A Tale of Two States”
On September 24, The James Madison Institute hosted a forum in partnership with The Florida State University’s Project on Accountable Justice and St. Petersburg College Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions to discuss what Florida can learn from Georgia’s successful juvenile justice reforms. The public forum was titled “A Tale of Two Cities: What Can Florida Learn From [...]:: Read More
Fox News: “Conservatives join push to roll back mandatory prison sentences”
Following Marc Levin’s testimony before the U.S. Judiciary Committee, this Fox News story features Right on Crime, noting that “The project has since been part of recent, successful efforts in Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina to reform their systems through such changes as reducing penalties for low-level drug possessions; expanding the use of time- [...]:: Read More
Norquist-Gleason: Holder follows GOP lead in easing harsh drug laws
ROC signatory Grover Norquist co-authors this Reuters op-ed with Patrick Gleason, in which they further discuss how U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is late to the party regarding criminal justice reforms, noting that “it has been Republicans in the states who are leading the way.” “Consider Texas, where the smart-on-crime policy reform movement began in [...]:: Read More
National Review: Not Too Soft, Not Too Hard…but just Right on Crime
In this National Review article, Texas is recognized as “a state with an enlightened leadership that keenly appreciates the fact that anti-crime measures adopted during the epidemic decades from the late 1960s to the early 1990s have in some part outlived their usefulness.” Following Marc Levin’s U.S. Judiciary Committee testimony concerning mandatory minimums, he told [...]:: Read More
Reddy: Criminal justice reforms in Texas can set tone for U.S.
In this Houston Chronicle op-ed, Vikrant Reddy discusses U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s criminal justice reforms, saying “This is an area where the Obama administration is following, not leading.”:: Read More
NPR Weekend Edition Saturday: “What’s Wrong With Mandatory Sentencing?”
Marc Levin: “[there] are better ways to [hold offenders accountable] than mandatory minimums, particularly when it comes to non-violent offenders. And we think that the attorney general is a bit late to the party. It’s five years into the administration; and we’ve seen states like Ohio, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia, already roll back their excessive [...]:: Read More
Right on Crime in United Liberty
Marc Levin: “It’s good to see the Administration following the lead of conservative states such as Texas, South Carolina, and Georgia that have proven it’s possible to reduce crime while also reducing criminal justice spending.” Read the whole United Liberty article here.:: Read More
View More from Georgia »