Essential Principles for Georgia’s Juvenile Justice System

By Jeanette Moll and Kelly McCutchen

Jeanette Moll, Juvenile Justice Analyst, Texas Public Policy Foundation
Kelly McCutchen, President, Georgia Public Policy Foundation

Like many of their colleagues across the country, Georgia policy-makers are taking an increasingly close look at their criminal justice system. In search of both increased effectiveness as well as cost savings, policy-makers now have an ideal opportunity to evaluate and improve the correctional system. An essential part of that review must include that portion of the justice system which oversees juvenile delinquents.

Georgia’s state budget for juvenile justice is $266 million in Fiscal Year 2011 and may grow to $279 million in 2012.1In addition, almost 50,000 youths are in the system each year, either awaiting adjudication or serving their sentences2– 50,000 youths who represent the future workforce and citizens of Georgia. Undoubtedly, the juvenile justice system will play a role in whether they become productive citizens who contribute to society or career criminals who take a toll on victims and taxpayers. Policymakers have a unique chance to improve the system through the current efforts to rewrite juvenile delinquency statutes.

These considerations require policy-makers to carefully review the juvenile justice system. To that end, there are five essential principles specific to the Georgia juvenile justice system that provide basic principles and guidelines for policy-makers to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the system. These five essential principles each seek to strengthen families, enhance public safety, decrease juvenile crime and reduce costs.

Click here to read the entire Juvenile Justice reform position paper.

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