Category: Legal Reform

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
By Ross Coker The popularity of consumer-grade multi-rotor or quadcopter devices, the unmanned aerial vehicles commonly referred to as “drones,” has skyrocketed over the last several years. While previously a niche product for aviation and remote controlled vehicle (“RC”) enthusiasts, the buzzing contraption is now commonplace at weddings, beaches and scenic overlooks across the United States. Consumer demand for and use of drones has, however, outpaced regulation. The Federal Aviation Administration’s regulations for similar products have heretofore contemplated mostly hobby-grade RC planes, loud, expensive, and uncommon devices that also mostly lacked the ability to record pictures and video. (See “A Brief History of Drones” at droneblog.com.) Current drone technology, by contrast, allows for sometimes shockingly effective (and potentially invasive)… View Article
By Ross Coker If you or your family have ever taken a vacation to a locale rich in history and lore such as Charleston, S.C., or Savannah, you might have enjoyed the spooky entertainment of a ghost tour. In the event that you did, one of the first things on your mind during the tour was likely, “I hope my tour guide is licensed by the city,” right? Probably not. Nevertheless, tour guiding in Savannah was one of many professions that was kept behind the curtain of a licensing requirement in the state of Georgia – until recently, when a group of tour guides partnered with the non-profit law firm the Institute for Justice to challenge the requirement on a… 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

Guide to the Issues: Medical Malpractice

Principles:  Medical malpractice reforms should accomplish the following goals: Reduce the rates of preventable patient injuries. Promote open communication between physicians and patients. Ensure patients have access to fair compensation for legitimate medical injuries. Reduce liability insurance premiums for health care providers. Recommendation:  Replace Georgia’s current expensive and ineffective malpractice system with one thatreduces medical errors, enhances patient access to fair compensation for legitimate medical injuries and lowers liability insurance premiums for health care providers. Facts: The current approach to medical errors is failing: Expensive: Billions of dollars are wasted each year on “defensive” medicine, unnecessary procedures and tests ordered to protect health care providers in case of a lawsuit. Ineffective: There is “scant evidence that tort liability… View Article

The Future Path of The Supreme Court

By Hans von Spakovsky Hans von Spakovsky The sudden, unexpected death of Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia is a tragedy not just for his extensive family and many friends, but for the Supreme Court, the nation and all those who believe in the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution. This was his 30th year on the Court, and in those 30 years, he helped change the course of the law with his profound legal analysis and his single-minded determination to bring the Court back to applying the Constitution as it was written and understood by the men who wrote it. Scalia had a visceral contempt for activist judges who legislate from the bench, rewriting statutes and the Constitution… View Article
EVENT INVITATION January 26, 2016 Contact Benita Dodd at 404-256-4050 or benitadodd@georgiapolicy.org Criminal Justice Reform Leader Judge Michael P. Boggs Keynotes Feb. 17 Event Atlanta – Criminal justice in Georgia is transforming from an “Ugly Duckling” with the highest rate of correctional supervision in the nation (one in 13) to a “Cinderella” story of reform, thanks to committed, bipartisan leadership. And leading that effort is Georgia Appeals Court Judge Michael P. Boggs, co-Chair of Georgia’s Criminal Justice Reform Council in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Judge Boggs will be the keynote speaker at “Georgia Criminal Justice Reform: Looking Ahead, Staying Ahead,” the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s February 17 Leadership Breakfast, 8 a.m. at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. The… View Article

Stifling Debate: Transparency vs. Privacy

By Kelly McCutchen  KELLY McCUTCHENPresident, Georgia Public Policy Foundation Would you respond honestly at a public meeting in your community if the speaker asks you to raise your hand if you support gay marriage, a ban on abortion, restrictions on gun purchases or legalization of marijuana? What if the meeting was being videotaped?  For some individuals, expressing their honest views in a public forum could threaten their friendships, their business … even their jobs.  Thankfully, citizens who feel strongly about an issue but concerned about the repercussions of speaking out personally have an option: pooling their money with others who share their views to fund organizations that can make their voices heard in the public debate.  Our long history in… 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
Civil Asset Forfeiture: Undue Process and Overdue Reforms” featured two great panel discussions featuring Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, moderator John Malcolm of the Heritage Foundation, Jason Pye of Freedomworks, Walter Olsen of the Cato Institute., Derek Cohen, senior policy analyst for the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Right on Crime, Robert Frommer from the Institute of Justice, and Evan Armstrong, legislative counsel to Rep. Tim Wahlberg (R-MI) and Joseph Rivers, who was a recent victim of asset forfeiture as he was headed to Los Angeles to begin a career in music. Rivers–who lost $16,000 after being questioned by a DEA agent–put a human face on asset forfeiture, and his story serves as a… View Article

The best way to make a lasting impact on public policy is to change public opinion. When you change the beliefs of the people; the politicians and political parties change with them.

Senator Herman E. Talmadge more quotes