Thursday afternoon, House Bill 242 — Georgia’s sweeping juvenile justice reform bill that would also re-write the state’s juvenile code — passed the state Senate vote with unanimous approval.
Last week, HB 242 was mildly altered in a Senate Judiciary Committee session. The Senate version of the bill also includes several related legislative proposals, such as House Bill 219, which would give courts the ability to vacate delinquency convictions for underage youth charged with sex crimes in the instance the juveniles were the victims of sexual exploitation or trafficking.
The 248-page bill not only impacts juvenile justice in the state, but also includes statute alterations to, among other issues, state laws regarding adoption policies, deprivation cases and parental rights.
Rep. Wendall Willard (R-Sandy Spring), the bill’s primary sponsor, has said that the reforms included in HB 242 would ultimately end up saving the state $88 million over five years, primarily by diverting juveniles away from detention facilities and into community-based alternatives.
Gov. Nathan Deal, an early supporter of the bill, is expected to sign the legislation into law.
If signed, the reform measures would take effect beginning Jan. 1, 2014.