News and Information about Georgia's Newest Law Reforming the Juvenile Justice System.....
Governor Deal's Signing Ceremony
May 2, 2013 * Dalton, Georgia
On May 2nd, Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Avery D. Niles congratulated Governor Nathan Deal on the passage and signing of Georgia’s massive juvenile justice reform legislation in the Senate. Based on the recommendations of a special panel convened by Governor Deal, the goal of the legislation is to reduce the number of repeat juvenile offenders and bring down costs. READ MORE HERE
“This morning marks a milestone in my first term as governor,” said Deal. “I hope that, years from now, my cumulative work with the legislature and others on justice reform will prove to be one of the rocks in my administration’s Stonehenge, standing the test of time. First, we tackled the criminal justice system together. Then, last week, I signed into law the sequel to our adult justice reforms, making our criminal justice system even more effective and efficient.
Referred to as the Juvenile Justice Reform bill, HB242 was the result of more than six years of code revisions to create sweeping reforms in Georgia’s juvenile justice laws. The new code passed by the Georgia General Assembly, was signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal in 2013 to help position this state as an emerging role model for nationwide changes in juvenile justice system reforms and to create statewide momentum for long-term socio-economic impact in Georgia.
“This bill represents landmark reform and positive change for the Georgia juvenile justice system. First the legislation passed by unanimous vote in the Georgia House. Now it has passed in the Senate by another unanimous vote. The reform bill speaks volumes about Governor Nathan Deal’s leadership and his commitment to improving the lives of Georgia’s youth."
Building on the success of the criminal justice system reforms in 2012, Gov. Nathan Deal and the General Assembly this year tackled a significant and positive reform of our state’s Juvenile Justice System that will save tax dollars and improve public safety.
Even before the new Juvenile Justice Reform Law begins moving DJJ operations in positive new directions in January 2014, new community-based diversion programs will begin moving Georgia’s troubled youth away from juvenile detention sentences and reoccurring juvenile recidivism rates. Critical youth intervention programs in 44 Georgia counties have received new state awards totaling $4.7 million dollars from an innovative program called Juvenile Reinvestment. The Reinvestment Grants, awarded through Georgia’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) and the Governor’s Office for Children and Families (GOCF) are part of sweeping reforms restructuring the state juvenile justice system.
One of the primary architects of the special council recommendations that became the basis for this year’s juvenile justice reform legislation says the primary reason that thousands of juveniles enter the legal system each year is because they come from dysfunctional families.
As Florida looks to make sure released inmates don't return to prison, should the Sunshine state look to other states, like Georgia, to learn about their criminal justice reforms? Housing about 102,000 inmates, Florida's prison system is the third-largest in the U.S. According to state economists, that number is projected to increase in the next few years. A contributing factor is the number of released inmates going back to prison. Recently, some, including current and former Florida officials, heard from their counterparts in Georgia about efforts there to reduce recidivism… "In Georgia, we have about 55,000 inmates in our Department of Corrections and about 10 million people in Georgia. So, our population and our prison population are exactly half of yours down here in Florida. However, we have the same exact number of people on probation as you do."
Gainesville — The toughest part of Gov. Nathan Deal’s criminal justice overhaul depends largely on help from faith-based groups, and the governor has begun an unprecedented outreach to religious organizations to fight stubborn recidivism rates.
Deal wants to institutionalize what has been a largely informal effort to rely on volunteers to mentor and counsel released offenders. But building and sustaining a statewide network won’t be easy, and research suggests the work could have mixed results.
Still, Deal is putting his office’s heft behind the effort in hopes it brings lasting changes to recidivism rates that have remained relatively stable despite a long-term increase in corrections spending. It’s a long-term effort for a governor who has spent a chunk of his political capital in pursuit of a lasting criminal justice overhaul.
“We need you,” Deal said during a Sunday sermon at Gainesville’s First Baptist Church, his house of worship since the 1960s. “We need you to set an example — to welcome, to assist, to provide and to make sure that those who are willing to change the directions of their lives will find a helping hand.”