|Tagged in: Untagged||May 04, 2012||
|Posted by: Lance Dutton, Criminal Defense Attorney|
Governor Nathan Deal recently signed major legislation for the state of Georgia, which will revise the state’s prosecution of non-violent criminals. Due to the state budgetary crisis, legislators have been working for a long time to find ways to cut the amount of money paid to house criminals. Along with this reform, House Bill 1176, the governor signed an executive order to continue a special council’s study of the state prison system. Projected estimates on how much this overhaul will save the taxpayers suggest $264 million in savings.
Georgia Raising Funding of Drug and Accountability Courts
The state is planning on raising the funding of drug and accountability courts to $10 million. A lot of money is being spent on jailing repeat offenders, and projections estimate that these courts, which do more to rehabilitate the convicts, will eventually benefit both the criminals themselves and the community at large. In these courts, the defendants will be required to work, seek treatment, and stay sober. Governor Deal told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution "As we reserve more of our expensive [prison] bed space for truly dangerous criminals [we] free up revenue to deal with those who are not necessarily dangerous but are in many ways in trouble because of various addictions, our system is feeding on itself with our recidivism rate being as high as it is. We have the opportunity now to make a difference in the lives of future generations of Georgians." Many state lawmakers believe this rehabilitation process will help combat joblessness in released criminals, which seems to greatly influence the recidivism rate.
Major Points of the Non-Violent Criminal Bill Include: Increases the felony threshold for shoplifting to $500
- Categorizes burglary cases, with more severe punishments for those armed or intending to harm residents of private dwellings.
- Less severe sentences will be given to those who break into buildings that are unoccupied.
- Prosecute forgery offenses by the degree, taking into account the type of offense and the amount of money involved.
- Eliminates the statute of limitations on reported suspected child molesters
- Expand the definition of child abuse and the requirements of reporting such a crime.
The aforementioned special committee has also recommended doing away with minimum mandatory sentencing, like those for drug offenses. These mandates limit the court’s discretion in evaluating cases in context, and often lead to lengthy sentences for cases of minimal drug possession. While this is not part of HB 1176, it will likely be considered in the next year.
This new bill is lengthy and complicated, and can be difficult to comprehend without the aid of a practiced attorney.