Ga. rolls out criminal justice reform council

ATLANTA — Citing disconcerting numbers about Georgia’s prison population, state leaders on Wednesday announced the 2011 Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgia.

Georgia’s prison population, which has grown by 4.6 percent during the past two years, is the fourth largest in the country, according to state officials.

“With this new commission in place, we hope to uncover new approaches to make Georgia communities safer while increasing offender accountability, improving rehabilitation efforts and lowering costs,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in a news release. “While this effort should ultimately uncover strategies that will save taxpayer dollars, we are first and foremost attacking the human costs of a society with too much crime, too many people behind bars, too many children growing up without a much-needed parent and too many wasted lives.”

Deal has said he is an advocate for drug courts and increased probation and treatment options for people with drug addictions.

“Between 1987 and 2008, national higher education spending increased 24 percent. In that same period corrections spending increased 137 percent,” Deal said. “We now spend $3,800 a year for a K-12 student, $6,300 a year per university system college student and an overwhelming $18,000 a year to house an inmate in our state prisons.”

He added: “That math does not work for Georgia. Today, costs are too high, recidivism rates are too high and rehabilitation is too rare.”

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