The Georgia Public Policy Foundation today released an Issue Analysis on criminal justice reform, “Peach State Criminal Justice: Controlling Costs, Protecting the Public.” The Issue Analysis, by Marc Levin and Vikrant Reddy, reviews the recommendations made by the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians and discusses how commonsense adjustments to the criminal justice system have assisted other states in ensuring public safety, holding offenders accountable and controlling corrections costs.
The authors are senior policy advisors to Right on Crime, a national initiative led by the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which is a sister think tank to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. During a news conference announcing the bipartisan effort at criminal justice reform exactly a year ago at the state Capitol,Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal thanked the Georgia Public Policy Foundation “for its leadership and focus on the issue, which heavily impacts families’ lives and taxpayers’ pocketbooks.”
“The Foundation’s Criminal Justice Initiative pushed the problems to the forefront, proposed practical solutions, brought in leaders from other states to share examples, and created this nonpartisan opportunity,” Deal added.
Today, Georgia has nearly 56,000 inmates, more than double the number it housed two decades ago, even though the state population has only grown by about 50 percent between 1990 and 2011. The state spends more than $1 billion a year on corrections – one out of every 17 state dollars. The bipartisan Special Council, which released its recommendations in November, estimated that if no policy changes are made the Georgia prison population will grow by 8 percent from 2012-2016, costing the state an extra $264 million in corrections spending.
“In Georgia and across the nation, conservatives are uniting behind the idea that we can increase public safety and provide restitution for victims while reducing the burden on taxpayers,” said Kelly McCutchen, president and CEO of the Foundation and a Right on Crime signatory. “It’s time to hold the criminal justice system accountable and the recommendations discussed in this paper truly think outside the cell and provide an excellent step toward reform.”
McCutchen has signed Right on Crime’s Statement of Principles. He joins national signatories including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese, as well as leaders in Georgia including the founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Ralph Reed, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, former Acting U.S. Associate Attorney General Joe Whitley, and president of the Georgia Family Council Randy Hicks.
“The Council’s recommendations for criminal justice in Georgia are a good starting point, but they are not exhaustive” said Levin, who is director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
“Georgians simply can’t build their way out of these problems. Rather than asking taxpayers to construct another costly prison facility, policy-makers should recognize that community corrections programs that are based on evidence, customized to the risk level of each offender, and subjected to rigorous performance measures offer a better option for holding nonviolent offenders accountable and turning them into productive taxpayers.”
To view the Issue Analysis, click here. http://www.georgiapolicy.org/pub/Crime/IACriminalJustice.pdf.
About Right on Crime: Right on Crime provides conservative principled solutions that are proven to reduce crime, lower costs and restore victims. Right on Crime is a national initiative led by the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, one of the nation’s leading state-based conservative think tanks. The initiative aims to raise awareness and grow support for effective criminal justice reforms within the conservative movement. This project will share research and policy ideas, mobilize conservative leaders, and work to raise public awareness. For more information, please visit www.rightoncrime.com.