House Bill 373, also known as the “Good Behavior bill,” has unanimously passed the Georgia Senate.
“I don’t anticipate any problems,” sponsor Rep. B.J. Pak (R-Lilburn) said, of the measure approved with a 51 to 0 vote Monday. “I expect the governor to sign it into law. I’m very happy with the bill.”
The measure passed through just in time to meet Thursday’s official end to the 2011 legislative session. Formally endorsed by the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and the Council of Juvenile Court Judges, it would allow judges to review the sentences of designated felons who have served part of their terms for consideration for early release. Good behavior and academic achievement would weigh heavily in the child’s favor. A motion could only be filed after the child had served a year in custody and could not be re-filed more than once a year.
“It originally indicated that we would have to notify the victim within 10 days, but in a hearing [Sen. Joshua McKoon (R-Columbus)] requested that be changed to 14 days,” explained DJJ Spokeswoman Scheree Moore. “Due to that change, it now goes back to the House this week for an ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ vote.”
Rep. Pak said he supports the change.
“We will agree to that change and then it should be good to go, for the governor’s office,” he said.
Moore and Rep. Pak predict that the bill will be approved with no problems this week, wrapping up a successful effort of introducing and approving the bill in the same session.
DJJ leaders have praised the measure as a means of promoting “long-term public safety” and providing an incentive for young people in detention centers to better themselves in preparation for life back in the community. Both Moore and Rep. Pak also said they expect Gov. Nathan Deal to sign it into law.
“We’re optimistic that it will go through; it’s a good bill,” Moore said. “Right now we’re just waiting for the legislative process.”