Report Names 5 Essential Principles for Georgia’s Juvenile Justice System

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A new issue analysis by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation takes a close look at the state’s juvenile justice system and indentifies five essential principles for policy-makers to “increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the system.”

The report, written by Jeanette Moll and Kelly McCutchen, says 50,000 youths are in Georgia’s juvenile justice system every year, either awaiting adjudication or serving their sentences. Those youth, the authors write, “represent the future workforce and citizens of Georgia.”

The five essential principles focus simultaneously on rehabilitation and cost cutting, including placing low-level offenders into the least restrictive placements such as non-secure facilities and home-based community programming that is between 35 and 70 percent less expensive than secure detention. According to the report, these options also keep low-level offenders away from youth who pose a real danger to society.

The report also calls for a comprehensive analysis of each youth in the system as well as systematic responses that focus on the offender’s family.

Another cost-cutting measure that the report says may deter future crime is to avoid formal processing for first-time and low-level offenders.

Finally, the report says, pre-adjudication detention should be reserved only for those offenders who pose a legitimate risk to society.

With the recent passage of the new juvenile code out of the House in the Georgia General Assembly, the author’s believe now is the time for improvements to the system.

“Clearly,” they write, “the time is ripe in Georgia to take advantage of the many significant opportunities to improve outcomes for public safety, Georgia taxpayers and troubled youths.”

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