Last week, Georgia’s governor signed a bill into law that creates sweeping reform of the Georgia criminal justice system. The law is aimed mostly at reducing the criminal population within the state.
The law was designed based on recommendations made by the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Criminal Justice, a committee created to analyze the flaws inherent in Georgia’s legal justice system.
The bill has several parts to it, all designed to reduce sentencing for drug-related offenses. For starters, less severe penalties will be imposed on non-violent drug-related offenses. Drug courts will be expanded to provide a better system for dealing with drug-related crime and avoiding future crime. Instead of incarceration for low-level non-violent offenses, alternatives like diversion programs will be pushed.
By reducing the sentences of non-violent offenders, Georgia hopes to keep citizens who are not a danger to society out of the prison system and in the community. This will reduce the costs of the prison system, which is constantly growing within the state, and is very costly.
Instead of burdens on the community, these people can contribute to the community, become employed, and pay taxes. Their communities will not be shaken by their absence, and more room is made in the state’s prisons to confine dangerous criminals.
Some have argued, however, that these initiatives may not help fix the underlying issues at hand. Although drug-related offenses may not be violent, they are often associated with violent crimes. And while drug courts and other diversionary programs are helpful for those who are committed to them, they are not easily forced on the unwilling, and are often difficult to complete. Opponents argue that for those who are unwilling to participate or are severely addicted to drugs, these programs might not help reduce the number of inmates in Georgia prisons, and could lead to more violent crimes.
This information is not intended to be legal advice.