Georgia judge seeks reform of juvenile justice system

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ATLANTA — Georgia should overhaul its juvenile justice system in the same way state leaders have proposed focusing more heavily on rehabilitating rather than jailing nonviolent adult offenders, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein told lawmakers Wednesday.

Hunstein said in her annual State of the Judiciary address that putting nonviolent youth offenders into juvenile jails increases the likelihood they will commit crimes in the future, wastes public money and exposes them to violence and abuse. State funding cuts have limited access to mental health and child welfare services along with group homes, Hunstein said. As a result, she said juvenile judges sometimes face the choice of sending young offenders to lock-up facilities or sending them home “to get nothing at all.”

“The same reforms we are recommending to you for adults must begin with children,” she said in prepared remarks.

She cited statistics from the Department of Juvenile Justice showing that in the past three years, nearly two-thirds of the roughly 10,000 incarcerated young people have substance abuse problems. More than one-third had mental health problems.

“As with adults, we have learned that our get-tough tactics have failed to scare juvenile offenders straight,” Hunstein said.

In her remarks, Hunstein backed proposals from Republican Gov. Nathan Deal and other state leaders to create specialized courts designed to treat adults with substance abuse and military veterans in trouble with the law. She said the justice system needs to address the roots of an offender’s behavior.

“If we simply throw low-risk offenders into prison, rather than holding them accountable for their wrongdoing while addressing the source of their criminal behavior, they merely become hardened criminals who are more likely to reoffend when they are released,” Hunstein said.

She warned that spending cuts by state and county governments have created a backlog of court cases. That means residents are sometimes made to wait for months before they can get a temporary hearing in a divorce case, she said. Four death penalty cases in DeKalb County cannot move forward because of a lack of court resources.

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Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 01/25/12 - 10:58 pm
0
0
I agree that true NON-VIOLENT

I agree that true NON-VIOLENT offenders deserve other options. Those options should include but not be limited to community service, learning programs to correct whatever the negative behavior is, writing papers on what they did wrong, how they can improve and what they will do in the future to prevent being involved in a similar situation. Additionally, being in school each day, achieving decent grades, etc. should all be part of a probationary period.

However, violent offenders need to be placed behind bars and depending on their violence, placed in a small cell with no amenities for the remainder of their life.

overburdened_taxpayer
117
Points
overburdened_taxpayer 01/26/12 - 06:29 am
0
0
I contend that the "system"

I contend that the "system" has NEVER rehabilitated anyone. Sure it may provide the opportunity but it is the individual that rehabilitates themselves. And there aren't many out there that want to.

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 01/26/12 - 10:34 am
0
0
We need to form a blue-ribbon

We need to form a blue-ribbon panel to appoint a super-pac committee to elect a sub-committee to do an in-depth study of the impact of reforming the juvenile justice system. Then we must appoint a super-committee to study the findings of the sub-committee. Then we can argue about just who authorized the forming of the blue-ribbon panel to begin with.

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 01/26/12 - 10:56 am
0
0
Copperhead, sounds about

Copperhead, sounds about right, lol...

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