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The Forum
Getting Smart on Crime Puts Georgia Ahead

Georgia has reason to celebrate success in adult criminal and juvenile justice reforms.

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Friday Facts: September 12, 2014

The state’s education spending has changed with the economy, not because of politics.

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Reason Foundation dispels express toll lane myths

Shutting down myths about express toll lane projects before they shut down Georgia’s progress.

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Astonishing Early Results from GA Juvenile Justice Reform
MIKE KLEIN Editor, Georgia Public Policy Foundation

Editor, Georgia Public Policy Foundation

By Mike Klein

Buoyed by freshly funded incarceration alternatives, Georgia reduced new juvenile justice detention commitments by an astonishing 62 percent during the nine month period that ended in June. As a result, the average daily secure population rate is also trending down as is the length of time juveniles are waiting for a detention center placement.

“While it’s still early, we feel great about where we are,” Department of Juvenile Justice assistant deputy commissioner Joe Vignati told the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform on Tuesday morning. This was the Council’s first meeting since May although several committees met during the summer.

DJJ Deputy Commissioner Carl Brown led off with an historical overview of Georgia juvenile justice that recalled a $300 million annual budget in 2012, nearly two thirds of that amount spent on secure detention at $90,000 per bed per year. Brown said traditionally 25 percent of youths were incarcerated for low level offenses, misdemeanors and status offenses. Forty percent were assessed as being low risk to re-offend.

Juvenile justice was the 2012 Criminal Justice Reform Council’s principal focus and it resulted in a new way of thinking about kids. Juveniles who commit the most serious crimes and who pose a threat to public safety should be incarcerated and dealt with appropriately, but there would be new community-based program options for kids who primarily are just dysfunctional, sometimes severely so, but without criminal intentions.

House Bill 242 created a framework for alternative programs. Governor Nathan Deal’s FY 2014-15 budgets provided more than $13 million to help create community-based services. The first measurement is the nine-month period that began in October 2013 and ended in June. “Here’s the big bang, what have we achieved?” said DJJ assistant deputy commissioner Joe Vignati.

During the 2012 calendar year juvenile court judges sentenced 2,603 youths to incarceration. That became the base year with an objective goal to reduce the number by 15 percent or 390 fewer juveniles sentenced to incarceration between October 2013 and June 2014. Instead of 15 percent it was 62 percent and instead of 390 fewer sentences it was 1,614 fewer sentences.

Youths incarcerated at secure facilities declined 14 percent from 1,673 in October 2013 to 1,440 in June 2014. The number of youths awaiting a detention bed placement was down from 269 at the beginning of October 2013 to 157 at the end of June 2014, and it continues to improve.

“As of yesterday it’s my understanding that we have only 39 youth awaiting placement,” Vignati told the Council. “This is important because we make sure we are getting kids where they need to be. Also, now we are able to operate safe, secure facilities. We don’t have overcrowding.”

To learn more, watch these YouTube Channel videos recorded at the meeting:

Juvenile Justice Presentation, Part One

Juvenile Justice Presentation, Part Two

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Friday Facts: September 5, 2014

Can you trust the unemployment numbers?

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Georgia Legislative Policy Forum 2014: A Platform for ­­Reform

“Every year, the Forum is a unique opportunity to bring innovative ideas directly to Georgia leaders.”

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Checking Up On Health: September 2, 2014

Health Policy News and Views Compiled by Benita M. Dodd (This Labor Day week, the reference to the CBO quote about the Affordable Care Act is the extent of the “Health Policy News and Views!”) Around Labor Day weekend, theaaa

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The Humanity of Herbert Hoover: A Character of Caring

“In all the history of human suffering I know of … no accomplishment which in terms of magnitude and generosity can be compared to the relief that you have actually accomplished.”

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Friday Facts: August 29, 2014

Up (welfare recipients), Up (education spending) and Away (Burger King).

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Caveat Investor! Now Feds Want a Bite of Your Mutual Fund

Capital markets should not be subject to central planning by the Fed.

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