Deal’s Prison Reform Measures Lowering Minority Incarcerations

August 7, 2014 8:11 am

by Charlie · 7 comments

The various sentencing reform measures that have been one of the hallmarks of Governor Deal’s first term are having tangible results.  As Roz Edward writes for the Atlanta Daily World, the number of black inmates being incarcerated is dropping sharply.

Deal’s sweeping reforms aimed at rehabilitating nonviolent offenders and tackling the inflating costs of incarceration has reduced the black prison intake by 20 percent, according to a report in Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“What has declined sharply has been the number of blacks entering prison. But what hasn’t declined much at all, only a few percent, is the number of blacks in prison on a specific date – also called “standing population” or “stock,” explains Dr. Timothy S. Carr a senior researcher with the Georgia Department of Corrections and a participant in the study.

The fact that substantially fewer African Americans are being locked up in Georgia, is a remarkable and historic change in a state that has long packed its prisons with disproportionate numbers of black offenders.”

We often talk about campaigns and governing lacking substance.  Here’s a tangible example of a policy that is working.

Ed August 7, 2014 at 8:17 am

Gov. Deal’s prison reform efforts should be lauded much more than they are.

John Konop August 7, 2014 at 9:15 am

Governor Deal has done a very good job on trying to tackle prison reform and vocational education. Not given enough credit…..I real think a key part needs to be the elimination of prison records for non violent drug offensives. The scarlet letter makes it very difficult to get a good job…which creates a cycle of reoffenders and or welfare……

gcp August 7, 2014 at 5:36 pm

If offender is sentenced under First Offender Act and successfully completes the program his record is “sealed” however there are ways these records can still be accessed.

xdog August 7, 2014 at 9:18 am

Deal gets an OK from me for his policy.

Not mentioned in the article was the white prison intake decline. Anyone know?

Aaron Gould Sheinin August 7, 2014 at 3:14 pm

xdog, yes white commitments declined, too, but not as rapidly — 2.5 percent for whites compared to 15 percent for blacks.

Lea Thrace August 7, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Is that smaller decline mostly due to the fact that blacks make up a higher percentage of that intake population?

xdog August 7, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Thanks, Aaron.

As I said, I favor Deal’s policy here but it’s way too soon to know if it’s working as desired. For example, is the black prison intake reduction reflected in a similar increase in rehab numbers? There’s the question of whether rehab is even working. Maybe it’s just delaying entry to prison. And why are the numbers for whites lagging? Maybe the drug of choice is different.

Even though I suspect that decriminalizing weed would have similar effects at less cost, I’m willing to see how Deal’s program works out.

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