Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Historic Gathering of 3 Branches of Government Unveils Criminal Justice Reform Effort for Georgia

Georgia Public Policy Foundation President Kelly McCutchen joined Gov. Nathan Deal, state legislative leaders, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein and Attorney General Sam Olens today at the state Capitol for an unprecedented news conference by the three branches of government to announce a bipartisan effort at criminal justice reform for the state.

"Constitutionally, public safety is a core responsibility of state government, but that doesn't mean criminal justice shouldn't be held accountable for results – or that more taxpayer funds will solve the problem," McCutchen said. "This news conference shows that our state's leaders are willing to set aside partisanship for the opportunity to strategically build on Georgia's early successes and transform our criminal justice system to be more effective and efficient."

About one adult in 13 is under some form of correctional supervision in Georgia, which is the highest rate in the nation, and the state spends more than $1 billion per year on housing approximately 60,000 inmates. Through its Criminal Justice Initiative, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation has brought national experts on the issue to Georgia and proposed reforms that can reduce incarceration, recidivism and the burden on taxpayers.

Gov. Deal, who declared criminal justice reform one of his priorities during his inaugural address, was joined by legislative leaders including Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, House Speaker David Ralston, Rep. Jay Neal, Chairman of the House State Institutions and Property Committee, and House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. Deal announced legislation, sponsored by Rep. Neal, to create a special council to study criminal justice reforms and make recommendations to a joint legislative committee in 2012.

The governor thanked the Foundation "for its leadership and focus on the issue, which heavily impacts families' lives and taxpayers' pocketbooks."

"The Foundation's Criminal Justice Initiative pushed the problems to the forefront, proposed practical solutions, brought in leaders from other states to share examples, and created this nonpartisan opportunity," Deal added.

"There are numerous options," McCutchen said, "and each should be explored to see how it meets Georgia's needs: Drug and mental health courts can divert more nonviolent offenders away from the prison system on the front end. Faith- and character-based programs within the system reduce the recidivism rate, and day report centers and alternative sanctions for technical parole violations help turn tax burdens into taxpayers on the back end."

To find out more about the Foundation's Criminal Justice Initiative, call Kelly McCutchen at 404-256-4050 or e-mail him at About the Georgia Public Policy Foundation: The Foundation is an independent, state-based think tank that proposes practical, market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians. The Foundation’s regular events include Leadership Breakfasts and Policy Briefing Luncheons. Weekly publications are the Friday Facts and Friday Idea commentaries. Visit to read about innovative solutions to the state’s challenges or to watch streaming online video of Foundation events. Join the Foundation’s Facebook Page, discuss state issues on our community site, The Forum, or follow us on Twitter at

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