Lawmakers Advance Georgia Juvenile Code Despite Funding Concerns

The proposed overhaul of Georgia’s juvenile justice and child protection laws cleared another hurdle Wednesday, even as local governments continued to fret about the potential financial burden. The bill, five years in the making, would update Georgia’s juvenile code for the first time in 40 years, modernizing procedures and treatments for handling abused, neglected and delinquent children. The state Senate Judiciary Committee recommended passage of a House version of the bill Wednesday afternoon on a unanimous vote. In endorsing the House legislation, the senators agreed that the state’s financially troubled Georgia Public Defender Standards Council should continue to make sure indigent juveniles facing detention have a lawyer. An earlier Senate version of the bill would still have guaranteed attorneys for those youths but would not have made the council responsible.

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.

Seven Steps to a Compassionate Child

Most children operate in a Me-First world. Yet, as we seek to raise fully functioning citizens of the world, we must help them mature beyond their Me-First mentality. Some seem to have the emotional IQ of a kumquat, while others seem to intuitively know that harsh words will hurt someone’s feelings. Ideally, instilling compassion starts at home, teaching each of our seven sons how words or actions make other family members feel. A terrific book on this topic is Raising Compassionate, Courageous Children in a Violent World written by Dr. Janice Cohn.

For Once, Two Brothers Behind Bars Come Home For Christmas, Part One

No one is 100 percent sure what Christmas in the Dykes’ house will be like this year. But Zach Dykes, 17, a senior at metro Atlanta’s Hillgrove High School, is pretty sure it’ll be better than last year’s. It almost has to be. Zach was in the Cobb County Youth Detention Center on drug charges until Christmas Eve last year. His older brother, Robbie, 23, was in prison, serving an 18-month prison sentence on a drug conviction.