By Mike Klein
Every year Georgia locks up hundreds of juveniles who fled here from other states after they violated their probation or parole terms. Those hundreds sleep in Georgia beds, eat Georgia food, attend Georgia school classes, use Georgia medical services and in every other regard, they become a costly burden for Georgia taxpayers. But that might end soon
Monday afternoon the Georgia House unanimously approved HB 898 which would enable the state to rejoin the Interstate Compact for Juveniles (IJC). Georgia is currently the only state that is not an IJC member although it was a member for several decades until withdrawal in 2010.
The Council on Criminal Justice Reform recommended that Georgia rejoin the IJC in January. HB 898 sponsor Rep. B.J. Pak is a member of the Council and he introduced the bill Monday.
Georgia juvenile detention in a state facility costs $88,000 to $91,000 per year per bed. In late January, the state had detained 328 juveniles who could have been sent home if Georgia was a Compact member. Many juveniles are delinquents or status offenders. They are not hardened juvenile offenders, but they are costly juvenile offenders nonetheless.
HB 898 will require Senate passage before it could be sent to Governor Nathan Deal. There is more information about the IJC in this earlier Foundation article.
I wanted to publicly say how much I appreciate Georgia Public Policy Foundation. For those of you that will be entering the Legislature or are relatively new you may not quite yet appreciate how much we rely on Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s research and work. As you know we’re a citizen’s legislature. We have very little staff. They have been an invaluable, invaluable resource to us. To put this [Forum] on and the regular programs that they do throughout the year make us better at what we do. (At the 2012 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum.)