Georgia May Be Leading The States In Criminal Justice Reform


Georgia may be doing more to reform its criminal justice system than any other state, from sentencing to felon employment after release to juvenile detention, reports The New Republic. Over the last four years, mandatory sentencing minimums have been modified, and judges' discretion in sentencing has been expanded. The adult prison population has been given enhanced access to educational resources, including two charter schools’ going into prisons to teach inmates, and those participating earn a high school diploma instead of a GED.

Inmates with felonies applying to work for the state no longer have to check a box on their job applications that discloses their criminal histories and would often disqualify them from being considered for a job from the outset. The state has invested $17 million in measures aimed at reducing recidivism and rehabilitating low-risk, nonviolent offenders—including expanding accountability courts like those for drug use and DUIs, and funding community-based programs that have already proved to be more cost-effective than a prison sentence and are designed to reduce crime in the long run. Another set of initiatives focused on the juvenile justice system, which, as of 2013, was spending $91,000 on each juvenile inmate per year and still seeing a 65 percent recidivism rate.

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