3/18: Criminal justice reform

By the AJC Editorial Board

Based on historical data, nearly 100 new “lower-risk” inmates may be processed into Georgia’s prison system this week. They’re the petty criminals who are a costly nuisance to society, not raging threats to public safety.

Yet Georgia taxpayers will spend about $18,000 a year to warehouse each of them. Common sense and experts agree this costly practice does nothing to reduce crime. Conservatives and liberals find common ground on this point, and polling by this newspaper and other groups shows solid support for reform .

Georgia can’t afford to keep paying $1 billion a year for such a counterproductive strategy. Not when we can likely get better results for the same, or even less, money.

Which brings us to Georgia House Bill 1176, a first-cut blueprint for criminal justice reform. It’s expected to arrive on the House floor this week after some tweaks. The General Assembly should pass this bill this session. Public safety is too important to do otherwise.

Read the rest of what the AJC Editorial Board has to say, along with a commentary by Bob Barr, and a third by David Keene and Randy Hicks.

Then tell us what you think.

21 comments Add your comment

Changed

March 19th, 2012
8:41 am

I’m not sure of the numbers here but I suspect that not addressing petty crime doesn’t reduce the crime rate either. How about meeting in the middle, no incarceration but instead use a corporal sort of punishment. The concept of caning sounds barbaric, but the recidivism rates can’t be argued with.

Okay. Maybe caning is bit harsh. But unfortunately, as long as a “civilized” society deals with crime not much different than giving a “time out” to an unruly child, criminal justice just won’t be as effective as it could be.