One year ago, Governor Nathan Deal was sworn into office with Georgia ranking among states with the highest incarceration and lowest rehabilitation rates in the country. Recognizing that the “revolving door” of addiction, crime, and recidivism has resulted in overcrowded jails, stretched budgets, and damage to families and communities, Governor Deal created the Criminal Justice Reform Council to develop comprehensive solutions to increase the effectiveness of the Georgia Corrections System.
In Governor Deal’s January 10th, 2012 “State of the State” speech, the Governor doubled down on these efforts, recommending $5.7 million to build Residential Substance Abuse Centers and an additional $10 million to support the creation of new Drug, DUI, mental health, and Veterans Courts. According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, drug courts have been shown to reduce recidivism by as much as 35% over other sentencing options.
As the Governor remarked in his speech, "We must make this investment. If we fail to treat the addict's drug addiction, we haven't taken the first step in breaking the cycle of crime — a cycle that destroys lives and wastes taxpayer resources." Through these efforts, Georgia has joined the Office of National Drug Control Policy and other state and local jurisdictions across the country in supporting innovative approaches to criminal justice reform. These reforms have been shown to improve the cost-effectiveness of the justice system, improve public safety outcomes, and give individuals a second chance at becoming contributing members of their community.
Katie Greene is Deputy Associate Director of the Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison