A push to reform juvenile justice in Georgia failed over finances in the state legislature, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The 246-page proposal was a rewrite of the entire Georgia Code that deals with children, including incarceration, foster care and termination of parental rights. It was the result of five years of work and assurances that reforming the juvenile justice system would save money and young lives that otherwise would be lost to the criminal justice system. But the would-be reforms died over concerns that local governments would have had to cover millions in costs, and the state would have to come up with more money. The bill had passed the House but didn’t get on the Senate’s final calendar.
“The governor knows we need significant reform in our juvenile justice system,” said Brian Robinson, Gov. Nathan Deal’s spokesman. “He agrees with the direction of the legislation, but right now, there are too many unknowns about the costs involved. Estimates vary widely, but we do know that it comes with a hefty price tag. The governor would like to see that issue resolved, so that we can move forward on these needed improvements.” Douglas County District Attorney David McDade, who was among the prosecutors arguing against the bill, said, “The difficulty has been good government costs money, and if we're going to have to implement that [bill], we need the resources. We support the bill as long as it's fully funded.”