In his inaugural address to a small, snow-winnowed crowd of state lawmakers, supporters and state officials, Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday made crime and its cost his very first topic.
Deal made no specific proposals, but the comments below appear to echo last week’s musings by House Speaker David Ralston, who wondered if Georgia was locking up too many people, at too high a cost – particularly in the case of drug addicts.
When a House speaker and a new governor are hitting the same notes, something’s up.
From Deal’s prepared text:
“Presently, one out of every 13 Georgia residents is under some form of correctional control. It cost about $3 million per day to operate our Department of Corrections. And yet, every day criminals continue to inflict violence on our citizens and an alarming number of perpetrators are juveniles.
“College students should be concerned about their grades not whether they are going to be mugged on their way home from class. Visitors to our cities should be treated as welcomed guests and protected. Families should not live in fear of gang violence and drive-by shootings. But most of all, our dedicated law enforcement officers must not be targets for criminals. Anyone who harms one of them harms us all, for they embody the Constitutional mandate that government provide us with protection and security.
“Breaking the culture of crime and violence is not a task for law enforcement officials alone. Parents must assume more responsibility for their children. Communities must marshal their collective wills; civic and religious organizations must use their influence to set the tone for expected behavior.
“For violent and repeat offenders, we will make you pay for your crimes. For other offenders who want to change their lives, we will provide the opportunity to do so with Day Reporting Centers, Drug, DUI and Mental Health Courts and expanded probation and treatment options. As a State, we cannot afford to have so many of our citizens waste their lives because of addictions. It is draining our State Treasury and depleting our workforce…..”
And let it be noted that Deal – unlike his predecessor – put a great deal of emphasis on transportation:
With an expansive land mass that is populated by one large metropolitan area, several medium-sized municipalities, and many smaller cities and rural counties, our transportation needs are very diverse. With our ports at Savannah and Brunswick, we are part of an expanding international trade community.
We will do our part to deepen the Savannah port in order to accommodate the larger vessels that will soon pass through the Panama Canal. But we must do more. Our rail capacity and cargo routes must be improved and expanded. We must not miss this opportunity to provide jobs for Georgians.
Highway congestion, especially in the Greater Atlanta area is a deterrent to job growth in the region. If we do not solve this problem soon, we will lose the businesses who want to expand or locate in our State. I am dedicated to working with all elements of government to improve our transportation system and I call on all Georgians to join us. We must put aside some of the regional differences of the past and work for the common good of our State.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider