Category: Crime

Second Chances for Ex-Offenders

By John G. Malcolm and John-Michael Seibler  A simple adjustment in federal law would provide much greater opportunities for young individuals who made some bad life choices but atoned to reintegrate into society successfully and to become productive, law-abiding citizens capable of supporting themselves, their families and their communities. Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), and Hakeem Jeffries, (D-NY), introduced a bill Wednesday, the Renew Act of 2017 (H.R. 2617), with one goal in mind: Increase the age of eligibility for first-time offenders who were charged with simple misdemeanor drug possession to have their record – including any record of their arrest, charge, or disposition – erased, a process known as “expungement.” Under current federal law (18 U.S.C. § 3607),… View Article

Eyes In the Sky Over Sandy Springs?

The use of drones has exploded over the last several years, with the (mostly) flying robots so ubiquitous that it is easy to forget that even as recently 10 years ago, no consumer-grade versions of the devices were even available. (See the Foundation’s March 2017 article on the subject). The implications of the topic are coming to bear in a very real way for those in metro Atlanta, with a proposal to bring law enforcement drones to Sandy Springs. As reported in a city staff memo and by reporternewspapers.net, the city is considering the use of a new and ruggedly-equipped drone device for purposes including “Photographing and video recording crime scenes … [a]ssisting in reconnaissance for high risk… View Article
The topic of civil asset forfeiture, the practice of law enforcement seizing and holding property even if the owner is never charged with or convicted of a crime, has made the news recently both in Georgia and nationally. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation focuses frequently on civil asset forfeiture. Many other policy organizations and grassroots groups, both conservative and liberal, have decried the practice. Regrettably, its status remains the same after the most recent Georgia legislative session. While the last reforms Georgia made were meaningful, the result has been somewhat underwhelming. There should be transparency through increased reporting.  Unfortunately, there is no real accountability for missing information and some confusion in the reporting process itself, as the Foundation reported View Article

Education is Key to Redeeming Lives in Prison

By Gerard Robinson and Van Jones Every year, more than 650,000 men and women leave prison and return home to communities across America. They are often released with little more than some spare change, a bus ticket and a criminal record that bars access to some of their most basic rights and privileges. Facing deep social stigma, many returning citizens feel as though they have left the grips of a physical prison only to find themselves engulfed in a new, social prison. It is tragic but not surprising that 50-75 percent of them end up incarcerated again within five years. In today’s knowledge economy, higher education is one of the first rungs on the ladder to economic freedom and social… View Article

Criminal Justice Reform Legislative Post-Game

By Ross Coker As the dust settles from the 2017 legislative session, among the legislation heading to the Governor’s desk are three significant criminal justice reform-related measures initiated in the Senate. The first, Senate Bill 174, focuses on Georgia’s Accountability Court system and grants more intelligent leeway to use measures that they might feel are appropriate on a case-by-case basis. For example, the legislation would allow the Board of Community Supervision to offer educational or skills-based programs to those on probation to encourage gainful employment and reintegration into society. The bill also sets up the creation of a certificate to be issued to those who complete reentry programs, marking a readiness to reenter society as a productive citizen. SB 174… View Article
By Ross Coker The Georgia Public Policy Foundation and other organizations committed to intelligent criminal justice reform in Georgia, have for some time pointed out Georgia’s astronomical rates of parole and probation, the highest in the nation by far. Georgia has 4,565 adults on probation per 100,000 adults, whereas that number falls to 2,200 for the next state on the list, Rhode Island. Parole and probation join the larger problem in criminal justice reform efforts known as “collateral consequences:” things beyond fines and prison sentences such as restrictions on civic participation that prevent ex-offenders from living the same lives as those who have not, even if they desire to return to a law-abiding, contributory role in society. The justification… View Article

Justice Day 2017

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation participated in the annual Justice Day Initiative in Atlanta on February 2, 2017, at which hundreds of attendees from numerous organizations aligned around the common cause of criminal justice reform. The event was inspiring in uniting groups with diverse backgrounds and stories all in one place as they discussed the best ways to push meaningful reform and educate lawmakers about what needs to be done for effective justice in Georgia. Speakers included Clayton County’s Judge Steve Teske, Chief Judge of the Juvenile Court of Clayton County, who shared stories of successes that have already taken place in Georgia’s campaign for reform. He and others admonished that nobody should become complacent, as there is plenty more… View Article
Matthew Standsberry of the American Legislative Exchange Council wrote about pre-arrest diversion programs in Fulton County, Ga., in a February 3, 2017, article on ALEC’s website. The article is reprinted below; access it at ALEC at www.alec.org/article/georgia-examines-a-pre-arrest-diversion-program/. Georgia Examines a Pre-Arrest Diversion Program By Matthew Standsberry Politicians and citizens from both sides of the aisle have been pushing for criminal justice reform for years. In 2008, a study was released by the Pew Center on the States which identified that more than 2.3 million adults are currently incarcerated in the U.S. in some capacity — amounting to nearly 1 in 100 adults in the United States. In Georgia, this problem is even more severe as one in 13 adults View Article
By Ross Coker With the tumultuous results of the general election, one issue that should not be pushed to the back is the reform of civil asset forfeiture laws to curb abuse and perverse incentives that harm innocent victims and the reputation of law enforcement. Some states, including Georgia, enacted reforms prior to the general election. Others made important changes via ballot measures in November. Criminal justice reform advocates are hopeful positive changes will continue under a new Trump administration. Below is a brief rundown of some notable state approaches to this issue, and their most recent status or change. California: A recent reform bill requires a conviction before forfeiture of assets can take place in cases involving assets… View Article
A legal memorandum by John-Michael Seibler of the Heritage Foundation proposes, “Seven State Criminal Justice Reform Measures for Congress to Consider.” It points out: “A number of states—those laboratories of democracy—are leading the current push for genuine reform that does not involve issuing get-out-of-jail-free cards to those deserving of punishment. The federal government would be well-served by looking to the modest, measured pieces of legislation states have crafted to battle overcriminalization and enact effective criminal justice reform.”  Read the memorandum in its entirety on the Heritage Foundation website here. The measures are  Enact Mens Rea Reform to Decriminalize Morally Innocent Mistakes or Accidents Repeal Outdated, Unnecessary Criminal Laws Codify the Rule of Lenity (guides judicial interpretation of… View Article

…One of the best things about the Georgia Public Policy Foundation is that it has such a broad membership base.

Dr. Wendy L. Gramm, Former Chairwoman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission more quotes