A 6-year-old kindergartner in Milledgeville, Ga. was placed handcuffed and arrested last week after a tantrum in class. According to police reports, Salecia Johnson was misbehaving, ripping items off walls and tossing furniture across her classroom. She was sent to the principal’s office, where she allegedly continued the tantrum, jumping on office equipment while attempting to shatter a glass frame on the wall. The report also said that Salecia knocked over a shelf, which slightly injured her principal.
As Georgia faces its greatest budget crisis since the Great Depression, the state Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has been forced to make drastic budget cuts. The last three years have seen a reduction of more than 20% in state funding. And future cuts of up to 10% for FY 2012 are possible. Jeff Minor, long time DJJ Chief Financial Officer, explains these losses in stark terms:
In FY 2009, DJJ’s base budget totaled nearly $343 million. By 2011, the budget was down to $266 million. The FY 2012 budget faces further cuts, from $15.4 million in a best case scenario to $25.7 million in a worst case scenario. Over a three year period, the cuts could total nearly 30%. In addition, says Minor, the agency lost more than $80 million in one-time budget cuts, largely absorbed through staff furloughs and hiring freezes.