Category: Crime

Update: The Council on Criminal Justice Reform unanimously approved a preliminary recommendation to “Ban the Box” on Georgia state government job applications during its Wednesday, December 18 meeting.  Exceptions to “Ban the Box” would include public safety positions and any job in which a felony conviction is an automatic disqualification.  The Council will vote to approve its final report in early January.  Recommendations would require legislation during the 2014 General Assembly.  By Mike Klein Should Georgia become the eleventh state to “Ban the Box?”  You could be excused for asking, what box?  “The Box” on many public and private sector employment applications asks, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”  On the Georgia state government employment application it… View Article
(This article is an excerpt of a presentation made by the author this week to Georgia justice system stakeholders who engage offenders before, during and after incarceration.  Stakeholders included representatives of justice, behavioral, housing, employment and other state agencies.) By Dennis  M. Schrantz Trying to reduce crime, reducing the number of victims, that is what’s at the heart of this work.  Every time we talk about re-entry we need to focus on the brass ring, crime reduction. We’re not eliminating crime; we’re reducing crime.  We’re not eliminating people returning to prison; we’re reducing the number of people returning to prison. We’re doing that because it reduces the number of victims we have.  Who’s against reducing the number of victims? Re-entry… View Article

Tearing Down Invisible Prison Walls Created by Poverty

By MIKE KLEIN Prisons do not need walls.  High unemployment, low education, blight, depression, desperation and deprivation can become easy substitutes for bricks and mortar.   Simply because someone completes time inside prison walls going home does not guarantee new hope and a new life. Ex-offenders often return to “some of the poorest neighborhoods and urban centers and rural towns throughout America and the city of Griffin in Spalding County, Georgia is no exception,” said Theo Harris when he recently addressed the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform.  Harris wears many hats in his community, among them, member of the Griffin-Spalding Reentry Task Force. Standing before a large mural filled with multi-colored stick pins, Harris showed Council members four Griffin census… View Article
By Mike Klein One by one they came to the podium; the convicted murderer who served 25 years in state prison; the long-term addict who turned to drugs after relatives sexually abused her when she was less than ten years old; the former elected official who took money under the table and when his scheme unraveled, he went away to the federal Big House.  One by one, they came to the podium with nearly the same message:  If you want to rehabilitate someone, start early. “It is impossible to let a person go five-to-six years in prison and expect that person to rehabilitate himself and begin that process six months before you come home,” said convicted murderer Aakeem Woodard.  “How… View Article
By Mike Klein Governor Nathan Deal has raised the ante on civil asset forfeiture reform next year by formally asking the new Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform to bring forward its own recommendation – and he means before the General Assembly returns in January. Ten new members and five holdovers from last year’s Council were told about civil asset forfeiture reform during their initial meeting Thursday afternoon at the State Capitol.  Civil asset forfeiture reform was perhaps the most contentious issue in the 2013 General Assembly. House Bill 1 would have limited the power sheriffs and district attorneys have to seize the assets of people who have been convicted of no crime, convert those assets to cash, and then… View Article
By Mike Klein This idea is almost too obvious:  Fix families and you might alleviate pressure on overburdened state justice systems as there might be fewer folks showing up in juvenile and adult criminal courts.  This week the Campaign for Youth and Justice echoed that idea in a new report that states: “Given the history of the juvenile justice system, which has historically kept families at arm’s length, coupled with organizational and fiscal challenges facing agencies today, it is not surprising that many justice systems are struggling to meet the needs of families.” The Family Comes First executive summary further states that despite legitimate efforts to improve outcomes, “what has been missing is a vision of what a transformed justice… View Article
Published May 3, 2013 By Mike Klein One of the primary architects of the special council recommendations that became the basis for this year’s juvenile justice reform legislation says the primary reason that thousands of juveniles enter the legal system each year is because they come from dysfunctional families. “Most of the kids we’re seeing today in most courts are kids in which we have broken families, most of them have single parents, most of those are mothers and there are poor or very weak problem solving skills, not just among the young people but also their parents,” Clayton County Juvenile Court Chief Judge Steven Teske told the Georgia Public Policy Foundation this week. Last year Governor Nathan Deal added… View Article
Published May 1, 2013 By Mike Klein Georgia’s next justice reform priorities will start with expanded digital learning in juvenile sectors and increased focus on transitioning paroled adult inmates back into society with more than a few bucks and a bus ticket.  Governor Nathan Deal discussed these priorities during an Atlanta speech on Tuesday, two days before he is scheduled to sign juvenile justice reform legislation. Deal said the state will partner with Provost Academy Georgia to provide digital learning resources to juveniles, starting with some 140 who participate in the Georgia National Guard Youth Challenge programs at Fort Gordon near Augusta and Fort Stewart in Hinesville. “These are young men and women who are on the verge of being… View Article
By Mike Klein Governor Nathan Deal on Thursday signed an adult criminal justice reform bill that revises minimum mandatory sentencing laws, expands the state’s right to evidence appeals and creates a new Georgia Criminal Justice Reform Commission that will remain on-the-watch until 2023.  In sum, the state will continue to consider criminal justice best practices for another ten years. The House Bill 349 signing ceremony was held in Marietta where Deal said, “When I first became Governor I was concerned about something that I was told Republicans shouldn’t really be concerned about and that was the fact that we were the tenth largest state in population but that we had the fourth largest prison population. “We had had a ‘tough… View Article

Georgia Can Lead Again on Juvenile Justice Reform

By Newt Gingrich and Kelly McCutchen Years of profound dysfunction in Washington have eroded Americans’ confidence in government. Our national leaders have lost virtually all their credibility when it comes to addressing society’s most pressing challenges. Fortunately, just as our Founders intended, states are increasingly finding innovative policy solutions for many of these problems. Can you imagine Congress ever accomplishing such a feat? Now Georgia has the opportunity to apply those same conservative convictions to its juvenile justice system by adopting the recommendations of the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform.  After months of research last year, the bipartisan Council produced proposals that will stop wasteful government spending and help more of Georgia’s young offenders fulfill their promise to lead… View Article

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