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Georgia

Number in Local Jail or Prison: 91,400

Incarceration Rate per 100,000 residents: 880 

Incarceration Rate Rank: 4th 

Corrections Share of 2018 General Fund Expenditures: 7.2%

Sources: 

“Correctional Populations in the United States, 2016,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. 

"2018 State Expenditure Report," National Association of State Budget Officers 

NEWS

July 19, 2019

“Technical violations account for almost 1 in 4 admissions to state prison and $2.8 billion in annual incarceration costs.”

An issue brief from the Pew Charitable Trusts examines reforms implemented through Justice Reinvestment Initiatives to address high rates of technical revocations for people on probation. The authors identified four categories of reform policies: tailoring supervision strategies toward behavioral change for high-risk supervisees, providing incentives for people on supervision, using administrative responses to violations, and capping or reducing jail or prison time for violations and limiting the use of incarceration for technical violations. They also highlighted model policies, including Utah’s earned credits toward discharge from parole or probation, and Georgia’s requirement of evidence-based practices to reduce recidivism.

July 12, 2019

“States such as Kansas and Georgia are learning that people benefit from community-based punishments that offer character building and skills development without sacrificing safety.”

Juvenile incarceration has dropped 60% since 2000, and Prison Fellowship’s Kate Trammell points to state-level reforms as a major driver of that reduction. Kansas, which focused on diversion programs that provided community-based alternatives to incarceration, saw a 31% drop in juvenile correctional placements between 2015 and 2018, and was able to fund evidence-based programs with $30 million in cost savings. Similarly, Georgia has seen a 46% decline in commitments to the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice since reforms were passed in 2013.

July 12, 2019

“Families with incarcerated loved ones believe lawmakers would support smarter justice reforms if they took the time to visit a prison or jail, and see what it is like.”

FAMM’s #VisitAPrison challenge launched this week, encouraging state and federal policymakers to pledge to visit a prison or jail in the next 12 months. Legislators from across the country have taken the pledge, including Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Representative Doug Collins (R-GA), Arizona State Representative Lorenzo Sierra, Georgia State Representative Gregg Kennard, New York Assemblymember Harvey Epstein, Oregon State Senator Sara Geiser, and Pennsylvania Senators Camera Bartolotta and Sharif Street. More information about the #VisitAPrison challenge is available here.

April 26, 2019

“If people don’t have stable housing when they get out, they’re much more likely to go back. Housing is the key to understanding the recidivism puzzle.”

Atlanta’s Metro Reentry Facility is believed to be the first transitional state prison for those slated for release within 18 months. To date, 350 men have been enrolled in the program, which provides intensive counseling, vocational training and housing support. Officials from the Georgia Department of Corrections also work with soon-to-be-released people to reconnect with family members, find housing, get a driver’s license and open a bank account.

April 12, 2019

“To have to be shackled with chains around their ankles, wrists and waist, even when they’re in the delivery room—it’s humiliating.”

Georgia House Bill 345, which would ban the shackling of pregnant women in jails and prisons, and prohibit placing them in solitary confinement during their postpartum recovery, was approved in the Senate by a vote of 52-1. The legislation would also mandate that vaginal exams of pregnant incarcerated women be conducted by licensed medical professionals. A similar version of the bill was approved by the House earlier this year. Legislators have until Tuesday, when the General Assembly adjourns, to iron out differences between the two versions.

November 2, 2018

“The findings show the problem with forfeiture, in that law enforcement has an incentive to focus on crime that pays.”

An investigation spurred by the Gwinnett County, Georgia Sheriff’s purchase of a 707-horsepower muscle car found nearly $100,000 in misused forfeiture funds, and additional expenditures are under review. Auditors have determined that the Sheriff Butch Conway’s purchase of the Dodge Charger Hellcat and a $25,000 donation to a faith-based nonprofit were improper uses of forfeiture funds. The purchase of a $175,000 bus, $16,150 spent on leadership seminars, and $7,758 spent on rifles later given to the Georgia State Patrol are still being evaluated. Gwinnett County’s federal forfeiture accounts held more than $827,000 in 2017, the result of participation in joint investigations with the DEA, FBI and ICE.

September 28, 2018

“Georgia has profoundly reshaped its adult and juvenile correctional systems, earning widespread acclaim…”

As Georgia prepares to elect a new governor, the Augusta Chronicle examined the impact of Governor Nathan Deal’s signature criminal justice reforms. Georgia’s Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform found a decrease in the total prison population, a reduction in racial disparity, and a steep decline in new commitments to the juvenile justice system. In addition, the recidivism rate dropped from 30 percent to 28 percent, and the share of those behind bars who were convicted of violent crimes rose from 57 percent in 1999 to 69 percent in 2017. The commission recommended additional reforms to the state’s bail system, and the expansion of record-sealing and expungement for those who have completed their sentences.  

August 31, 2018

“But at what point is it necessary to keep an ex-offender on a list? This guy for the last 12 years has lived an ideal life, but his name continues to be on a list that serves no purpose for society.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Bill Torpy profiled Benjamin Paul, whose job offer from Georgia Tech was rescinded after a background check turned up Paul’s criminal record from when he was 17 and 18 years old. In the intervening 12 years, Paul earned his GED, as well as an associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree, became an ordained minister, and worked as a career adviser at Miami-Dade College. Torpy interviewed Clayton County Juvenile Court Judge Steven Teske, who said records like Paul’s “create a very heavy yoke around ex-offenders” and encouraged lawmakers to follow their faith: “[they] go to church and read the scripture that says, ‘Forgive seven times 70 times.’ But they don’t live it.”

August 10, 2018

“We’ve seen firsthand how this changes lives, how it gives people second chances, how it puts communities back together, and keeps families together.”

As part of a renewed push for federal justice reform, President Trump met with a bipartisan group of governors this week to talk about state-level successes. In remarks before their closed-door session, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal noted that the recidivism rate for people in prison who learned a blue-collar job skill dropped by 24%, and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant credited his state’s reforms for saving $40 million since 2014. Following the meeting, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards invited the President to tour the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola and see vocational, victim-reconciliation and faith-based programs in action.

July 27, 2018

“When they’re in my class, they aren’t criminals. They’re beekeepers.”

The Georgia Department of Corrections works with the University of Georgia Master Beekeeping program, the Georgia Beekeepers Association, and Brushy Mountain Bee Farm to run programs in multiple facilities, including one for women at Arrendale State Prison. Participants work toward certification in beekeeping, and produce a monthly newsletter called the Nectar Collector. Honey collected by Arrendale beekeepers placed second in a special category of the 2016 Georgia Beekeepers Association honey contest.

May 25, 2018

“…The collection of revenue, and not the pursuit of justice or protecting the public, has become the driving force for civil and criminal enforcement.”

lawsuit filed by the Institute for Justice alleges that Doraville, Georgia has turned the local justice system into a cash machine for the city’s budget. Fines, fees, and forfeitures accounted for 19 to 30 percent of Doraville’s budget over the past five years, and residents face steep fines for chipped paint, cracked concrete, and improperly stacked firewood. The practice is not limited to Georgia—fines and fees provided 30.4% of the budget in Saint Ann, Missouri, 25.6% in North Hills, New York, and 14.5% in Sunset, Utah.

March 16, 2018

“America is home to only about 5% of the world’s female population, but we house in our prisons about 30% of all the women incarcerated in the world.”

On Sunday, #cut50’s Van Jones talked with Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay about the Dignity Campaign for incarcerated women. Jones and Topeka Sam also wrote about the need to include women in the conversation about criminal justice reform and the progress being made on dignity-related bills in Kentucky, Arizona, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland and Connecticut.

November 17, 2017

Justice reinvestment has support from law enforcement

Jake Lilly, from Law Enforcement Action Partnership shows how justice reinvestment has worked in Georgia and Texas, and will work in Louisiana.