Scales of Justice

The Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform (CJRC) released their latest report this past Friday (Feb. 6th) with recommendations aimed to increase public safety, hold offenders accountable, and reduce recidivism in our state. This is the fourth consecutive report that the CJRC has produced since 2011 after being tasked by the Governor and the General Assembly to develop a smarter, evidence-based approach to criminal justice in our state.

As reflected in the report, a major focus of the CJRC and the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Reentry (GOTSR) in 2014 was to develop a comprehensive approach to reentry so that every person leaving prison has the tools and support they need to succeed in the community.

To aid in the development of this approach, the Council and GOTSR partnered with the Michigan-based Center for Justice Innovation and reentry expert Dennis Schrantz to produce the Georgia Prisoner Reentry Initiative (GA-PRI). The GA-PRI is a five-year plan based largely on the evidence-based policies practices laid out in the 2005 Council of State Governments’ Report of the Re-Entry Policy Council and the 2008 National Institute of Corrections’ Transition from Prison to the Community (TPC) Reentry Handbook, but tailored specifically to meet Georgia’s reentry needs.

Georgia’s reentry team pursued federal funding to implement the GA-PRI in 2014, highlighting its “one strategy, one plan” philosophy that aims to unify planning and implementation of evidence-based practices among agencies and stakeholders. The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) welcomed the smart plan and awarded Georgia four grants which totaled $6 million. Georgia’s strategy is now being featured by the BJA at training events across the county.

Details and recommendations related to the GA-PRI can be viewed in this report, as well as the complete three-year implementation plan which is located in the addendum.

Other key pieces of the report include recommendations in the following areas:

Adult System

  • Restore the intent of the Georgia’s First Offender Act
  • Improve pre-trial diversion alternatives for certain offenders
  • Extend parole eligibility for certain qualified nonviolent, recidivist drug offenders
  • Extend sentences for offenders whose probation has been revoked and who wish to participate in a felony accountability court program

Juvenile Justice System

  • Improve the collecting and sharing of electronic data throughout the juvenile justice system

Misdemeanor Probation System

  • Address deficiencies and improve transparency and fairness in misdemeanor probation services

At GCO, we are particularly happy to see the following recommendations in the CJRC’s report which aim to increase employment opportunities for returning citizens:

  • Establish licensing policies that ensure returning citizens have appropriate opportunities for licensing
  • Explore opportunities for a state work opportunity tax credit to incentivize offering employment to returning citizens
  • Revamp prison work details to provide experience that meets the requirements of Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs) so technical college credits can be awarded for work experience gained on prison details
  • Explore resources available to purchase and deploy a Department of Driver Services (DDS) mobile unit to process state IDs at state correctional facilities

 

Read the full report here and visit the newly created website for the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Reentry.