Governor Nathan Deal - Georgia’s 82nd Governor (2011-2019)

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Deal introduces criminal justice reform legislation

February 14, 2018

The Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform today delivered its 2018 report to Gov. Nathan Deal. Recommendations included in the report, unanimously approved by the full Council, have been divided into two pieces of legislation and introduced in the Senate, SB 406 and SB 407.

“Georgia’s unprecedented success in criminal justice reform serves as the standard for other states to emulate,” said Deal. “As a result of our efforts, fewer Georgians were committed to prison last year than any time in the past 15 years, thereby saving millions of taxpayer dollars and keeping families and communities intact. While we provide individuals and families with second chances, we are simultaneously making communities safer by incarcerating the most serious and violent offenders. These common sense reforms lay the foundation for a more equitable criminal justice system and bring us another step forward in making Georgia a safer, more prosperous place to call home. I look forward to reviewing these recommendations and working with the General Assembly to ensure that Georgia not only remains at the pinnacle of criminal justice reform, but continues to lead the nation in these critical efforts.”

Based on the Council’s recommendations, SB 406 would require comprehensive criminal background checks for elder care providers in personal care homes or other assisted living facilities. The bill, which has been referred to the Senate Public Safety Committee, would also require elder care providers and their employees to participate in the FBI database to better protect older adults.

SB 407, which has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, would codify the Governor’s Criminal Justice E-filing Project, reform the misdemeanor bail process, provide judges with additional opportunities to convert monetary fees or fines into community service, and impose tougher penalties on firearm-related offenses. SB 407 would require juvenile judge participation in the Juvenile Data Exchange Project to access the best data available when determining appropriateness of in-home treatment programs, provide a process for Medicaid determination while a parole-eligible inmate is incarcerated, and continue previous reforms to improve probation services. Finally, SB 407 seeks to further enhance employability of drug court participants by allowing them to seek limited driving permits. Under this provision, the Department of Driver Services would also have the flexibility to issue probationary licenses and ignition interlock devices.

The Criminal Justice Reform Council also reported new findings based on previous reforms:

  • In 2017, Georgia saw the lowest number of overall prison commitments since 2002, and the lowest number of African-Americans entering the prison system since 1987.
  • From 2008 to 2016, Georgia experienced simultaneous decreases in overall crime, down 24 percent, and imprisonment rates, down 6 percent.
  • The number of individuals under probation supervision has steadily decreased since the enactment of last year’s reforms.

The members of the Criminal Justice Reform Council include:

  • Hon. Michael P. Boggs, Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia (Co-Chair)
  • Hon. Bill Cowsert, Senator, 46th District
  • Hon. Chuck Efstration, Representative, 104th District
  • Hon. Jason Deal, Superior Court Judge, Northeastern Circuit
  • Hon. Steve Teske, Judge, Clayton County Juvenile Court
  • Hon. George Hartwig, District Attorney, Houston Judicial Circuit
  • Hon. Scott Berry, Sheriff, Oconee County
  • Hon. Stephanie Woodard, Solicitor General, Hall County
  • Tracy J. BeMent, District Court Administrator, Tenth Judicial Circuit
  • R. David Botts, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney
  • Roy Copeland, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney and Assistant Professor, Valdosta State University
  • David J. Dunn, Esq., Circuit Public Defender, Lookout Mountain Circuit
  • Carey A. Miller, Esq., Executive Counsel, Office of the Governor (Co-Chair)
  • Teresa Roseborough, Esq., Executive V.P., General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, The Home Depot
  • Christine Van Dross, Esq., Circuit Public Defender, Clayton Judicial Circuit

The full report is available here or below.