Category: Crime

As reported in Creative Loafing, the city of Atlanta is considering new measures designed to keep people out of jail who might be better served with a targeted response to the reason for their offense.  This proposed measure is among many being considered within the state of Georgia and even nationally in the criminal justice reform movement, which seeks to curb high incarceration and recidivism rates with more intelligent and cost-saving strategies.… View Article

Rethinking Mandatory Minimum Sentences

By John G. Malcolm and John-Michael Seibler President Obama has publicly opined that mandatory minimum sentences ranging from 20 years to life in prison for drug offenses do not “fit the crime.” He has acted on that belief by commuting dozens of drug offenders’ sentences as Congress debates reform to various aspects of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Sherman Chester is built like an NFL cornerback. His size belies a calm, respectful demeanor and a soft-spoken wit. On politics, he says he registered to vote as a Republican in 1984 because “Ronald Reagan was in office” and “America was doing it!” And when asked how he felt when he received a mandatory life sentence without parole for selling cocaine and heroin,… View Article

Don’t Train Kids to be Felons in Adult Jails

By Newt Gingrich and Pat Nolan The noted “tough on crime” criminologist John Dilulio once commented that “jailing youth with adult felons under Spartan conditions will merely produce more street gladiators.” Louisiana should heed Dilulio’s caution against locking up young petty criminals alongside violent adult criminals. The Bayou State is one of only nine states that prosecutes 17-year-olds as adults, often for the most minor of crimes (stealing a bag of potato chips, for instance). We all can agree that breaking the law is wrong and that these teens deserve to face consequences for their actions. But tossing them into adult jails with hardened criminals just makes those bad situations worse. The research and data are clear: Adult jails are… View Article

Criminal Justice Reform Unshackles Georgians

By Benita M. Dodd Appeals Court Judge Michael P. Boggs, co-chair of the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform since 2012, makes a passionate case for the strides that have taken Georgia to the forefront in criminal justice reform. The Waycross jurist recalls presiding over a drug court in six rural counties in South Georgia. “I asked defendants three questions,” Boggs told the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual Legislative Luncheon recently. “When did you first drop out of school? Ninth grade. “What drug did you first start using? Marijuana. “When did you first start using it? Age 13. Boggs asked the luncheon attendees to guess: “How many of the first 6,000 criminal defendants I dealt with in felony criminal court… View Article
The Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform has released its 2016 Report, which provides a summary of progress to date and a list of recommendations. Below are excerpts from the report’s executive summary. It is often said that the states are our laboratories of democracy. With criminal justice reform, this is undeniably true. Over the past decade, more than two dozen states have enacted significant reforms to their sentencing and correctional systems, changes that have improved public safety while holding offenders accountable and reducing taxpayer costs. Unlike so many policy issues in America today, criminal justice reform has been embraced with overwhelming bipartisan support. As 2016 begins, Congress and President Obama are acknowledging the substantial progress unfolding in the… View Article
Civil asset forfeiture happens when law enforcement seizes property and money suspected of being related to a crime without any criminal conviction. Originally, it was a way for police to target drug trafficking and money laundering; today, it’s described as “policing for profit.”  The Institute for Justice’s November 2015 report, “Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture,” gave Georgia a D- for its laws, pointing out that the state has “poor protections for innocent third-party property owners.” As a Daily Signal article recounts, law enforcement agencies share the proceeds while owners of the seized property face a complicated retrieval process. “For citizens whose cash, houses, or motor vehicles are seized by police in Philadelphia, the journey to… View Article

Opportunity’s Knocking Hard at Georgia’s Door

By Benita M. Dodd BENITA DODD Six years after the economic downturn, the job market for able-bodied adults in Georgia remains one of the worst in the nation, according to recent figures. The challenge is not insurmountable, but strengthening the job market and Georgia’s economy requires the buy-in of this state’s policy-makers. Georgia has experienced the second-largest decline in the nation in the employment rate for 25- to 54-year-olds – the prime working years – the Pew Center reports. Today, there are 5.4 fewer working 25- to 54-year-olds out of every 100 than there were in 2007. Only New Mexico beat out Georgia for last place. Add to that the startling numbers that led to Georgia’s slate of criminal… View Article
The Heritage Foundation has produced a helpful factsheet that explains civil asset forfeiture. No. 4, especially, stands out: 4. What if I’m innocent? Surely, innocent people can’t have their property taken. Being innocent does not mean that a state has to return your property. The Supreme Court of the United States has held that the “innocent owner” defense is not constitutionally required. Furthermore, even in states where you do have an innocent owner defense, the burden is typically on you. Your property is presumed to be guilty until you prove that you are innocent and that your property therefore should not be forfeited. In other words, you must prove (1) that you were not involved in criminal activity and (2)… View Article
Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd wrote an op-ed on civil asset forfeiture in Georgia for the July 17, 2015, edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It appeared behind the paywall (link here); the complete text appears  below. Theft by another name By Benita Dodd Dictionary.com describes “theft” as “the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another.” That also describes “civil asset forfeiture” by law enforcement authorities. Law enforcement agencies have argued civil asset forfeiture is a necessary crime-fighting tool; others admit, more honestly, it’s a cash cow. Seminars list the profitable items to seize. News reports highlight agencies’ abusive spending on parties and vehicles, and even how police stop suspects’ vehicles in the cash-carrying… View Article

Finally, a one volume resource from an independent source that gives those of us in public life a new view on which to make public policy.

Governor Roy Barnes more quotes