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Georgia's Justice Reinvestment Approach: Strengthening Probation and Increasing Public Safety

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2017
4 pages
This report describes the features and effects of Georgia's justice reinvestment approach, which is designed to reduce corrections spending by strengthening probation and reducing recidivism, with the expectation that public safety will be increased.
In May 2016, Georgia State leaders requested assistance from the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which is a criminal justice reform effort for States, funded by the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and The Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew). BJA and Pew approved Georgia's request for resources under the Justice Reinvestment Initiative and commissioned the Council of State Governments Justice Center to assist the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform (the Council) in addressing challenges within the State's criminal justice system. A comprehensive analysis of extensive data collected from various State agencies yielded several key findings. One finding was that people sentenced to prison for most felony property and drug offenses are reconvicted at twice the rate of people sentenced to probation. A second finding was that there are more people on probation in Georgia than in any other State due to widespread use of probation sentences for misdemeanor offenses, as well as lengthy felony probation sentences that are used in lieu of and in addition to prison sentences. In fiscal year 2015, approximately two-thirds of people admitted to prison had violated conditions of their supervision or committed a new crime while on probation or parole. In mounting reforms, the Georgia Legislature enacted SB 174, which codifies the justice reinvestment policy framework developed by the council. This legislation includes policies to reduce lengthy probation terms and large probation caseloads, improve the effectiveness and cost of responses to probation and parole violations, and improve the handling of legal financial obligations for people on felony probation. 2 figures