The Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform has delivered its final report (.pdf) to Governor Nathan Deal, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, and Speaker of the House David Ralston.
Gov. Deal released the following statement:
“The Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform has exceeded expectations by delivering a comprehensive, serious and well-crafted report. I joined members of the General Assembly in asking this council to provide us with a starting point. We still have a long way to go in this process, as my office engages with legislators and concerned Georgians on where we go from here.
Obviously, the council has provided us with an in-depth study and recommendations. One of those recommendations I have already agreed to: I will sign an executive order to keep a council intact so that it can continue to provide input on this important topic.
We have an amazing opportunity to save lives as well as tax dollars. While we’ll never shrink from our duty to protect the public from dangerous criminals, we know that alternative sentencing for nonviolent offenders suffering from addiction or mental illness produces much better results.
Let’s get to work on promoting recovery and rehabilitation rather than a system that simply hardens criminals.”
Lt. Gov. Cagle said:
“I truly appreciate the diligent and thorough work of the Criminal Justice Reform Council, and I am grateful that Senators Hamrick, Crosby and Ramsey were willing to lend their experience and expertise to this critically important effort. Keeping Georgia’s citizens safe and doing so in a fiscally prudent manner is a primary function of state government, and I look forward to debate on this important issue during the session.”
The Special Council was created by House Bill 265, which charged the Council with undertaking
[a] study of Georgia’s criminal justice and correctional system … to enhance public safety, reduce victimization, hold offenders more accountable, enhance probation and parole supervision, and better manage a growing prison population through increasing public safety, improving rehabilitation, and lowering state expense;
The Council included members appointed by the Governor, the Speaker, Lieutenant Governor and Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. It also included the Governor himself or a designee and the Chief Justice and at least one member of the minority party of each chamber of the General Assembly. Members of the Commission are
Todd Markle, Executive Counsel to the Governor (Gov. Deal’s designee)
David McDade, District Attorney, Douglas County
Linda Evans, Attorney, member of Judicial Qualifications Commission, Atlanta
Ken Shigley, President-elect of the State Bar of Georgia, Atlanta
Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D- Decatur)
Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla)
Rep. Willie Talton (R- Warner Robins)
Lt. Gov. Cagle
Sen. John Crosby (R-Tifton)
Sen. Bill Hamrick (R-Carrollton)
Sen. Ron Ramsey (D-Decatur)
Chief Justice Hunstein
Chief Justice Carol Hunstein, Georgia Supreme Court
Hon. Ural Glanville, Superior Court Judge, Atlanta Judicial Court
Hon. Michael P. Boggs, Superior Court Judge, Waycross Judicial Court
From the report:
This report provides analysis and options for policymakers to consider to increase public safety and avert the growth currently projected for the state’s prison population. It provides descriptionsof each of the options. The Council strongly recommends that where potential savings are achieved, a portion be reinvested into those options that have been proven to reduce recidivism and improve public safety. These include expanding the availability of drug and other accountability courts and strengthening community supervision. The Council also suggests investing in effective information and performance measurement systems.
The following policy options are presented in three sections:
The first section consists of recommendations to improve public safety and hold offenders accountable by improving the criminal justice system in Georgia, particularly focusing on strengthening community supervision, sanctions and services.
The second section outlines potential sentencing reform options that will focus expensive prison beds on violent, career criminals and identify lower-level, non-violent offenders who could be effectively supervised in the community.
The final section summarizes the priority reinvestment opportunities that the Council believes should be adopted by the legislature in order to improve public safety in Georgia.
I’ll be posting more about the contents of the 25-page report later today or tomorrow.