Locking up Kids who Have Committed no Crime Could Cost Georgia Millions in Federal Funds

Every week, Georgia locks up juveniles who’ve committed no crime. A new study contends Georgia risks losing millions of dollars in federal funding if it continues doing so at the current rate. They are runaways, truants, curfew violators, underage smokers and drinkers. They’re called status offenders because their actions are only an issue due to their status as juveniles; if an adult did the same thing, it wouldn’t be a crime. Now, a report commissioned by the Governor’s Office for Children and Families warns that the practice could cost the state about $2 million a year in federal funding, particularly if Congress follows through with plans to tighten guidelines for placing status offenders in secure detention.

New Juvenile Justice Database in Georgia Puts Pieces of Puzzle in One Place

With the goal of presenting “the most current and accurate juvenile crime data available,” Georgia’s Governor’s Office for Children and Families (GOCF) launched a new website this week. The Georgia Juvenile Justice Data Clearinghouse aggregates data from multiple partners such as the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

“It’s a way to synthesize the information so people can look at it and say, ‘OK, this is what we’ve got,’” said Joe Vignati, director of Justice Programs at GOCF.

“You’ve got pieces of the puzzle all over the place,” Vignati said. And not all counties are able to report their data yet. In fact, one county, Vignati said, is still using paper records.

Georgia’s First Lady, Sandra Deal, was the inaugural visitor to the website a few days ago. After signing on, she said, “I am confident that this effort will go a long ways in helping improve outcomes for Georgia’s Youth, “said Mrs. Deal.

The site is broken into three main sections: Reports and Dashboards, Interactive Map and Pre-made Maps, each providing multiple ways of exploring the data from spreadsheets to pie charts.