Deal signs criminal justice reform council measure into law

ATLANTA — Gov. Nathan Deal has signed into law a measure creating the
Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgia, a panel aimed
at studying the state's “criminal justice and correctional system.”

The 13-member group is tasked with conducting “a thorough study of the
state's current criminal justice structure” and is required to “make a
report of its findings and recommendations” by January. Deal's son,
Judge Jason Deal, presides over drug court in Hall County, where the
governor signed the bill.

“While we foresee this effort uncovering strategies that will save
taxpayer dollars, we are first and foremost attacking the human costs
of a society with too much crime, too many behind bars, too many
children growing up without a much needed parent and too many wasted
lives,” the governor said in a statement.

“We must do a better job rehabilitating lives. We know that drug
addiction is the root cause of much crime,” the governor added. “Our
entire society benefits if we can turn these tax burdens into
taxpayers. I look forward to working with this council to make Georgia
corrections work better for Georgians.”

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

“One thing drug court has done for me is give me a sense of purpose in
my life, to set goals for myself, to be accountable for my actions,
and to break the cycle of addiction I had,” drug court graduate Mike
Wilcoxson said in a news release. “Drug abuse has always been a
struggle in my family; I come from a line of alcoholics. Being able to
break that cycle has changed my life and my family.”

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