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Georgia might see juvenile justice solution in Texas success

Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012 8:55 PM
Last updated 9:59 PM
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ATLANTA ­— Georgia legislators next month will consider a major restructuring of laws dealing with children who commit crimes and those who just misbehave, reforms that supporters say will lower the repeat-crime rate and save taxpayers money.

A commission recommended shifting responsibility for most children in the juvenile justice system to county governments, where they will be dealt with while living at home. The state’s lockup facilities will be reserved for those who are violent or considered the most likely to break the law again.

For Georgians wondering how well the reforms will work, there is the example of Texas, which instituted them five years ago.

Georgia’s motivation for change is simply the desire to save money. Locking up a juvenile costs $90,000 annually, which is more than an adult prisoner costs.

Five years ago, the number of Texas youths locked up in state-run detention centers was about 4,700. Since then, the number has steadily dropped to fewer than 1,500.

The juvenile crime rate has decreased significantly, according to Jeanette Moll, a juvenile justice policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Arrests fell from 141,000 in 2005 to 116,000 in 2010, an 18 percent decrease.

Thanks to those lower numbers, the state has saved about $200 million.

Texas’ major reforms included changing a law that automatically sent youngsters convicted of misdemeanors to state lockups, which is one of the recommendations of the Georgia commission as well.

Despite the progress, the system is still dealing with serious problems.

For instance, the youths tend to fight more or lash out at facility employees, said Bill Monroe, the senior director of finance and technology at the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.

For Michelle Deitch, other problems are just as worrisome.

“Youth-on-youth violence is still high, and the (guards’) use of pepper spray is unacceptably high,” said Deitch, a juvenile system expert at the LBJ School at the University of Texas. “We need better gang management and early intervention.”

Keeping the most challenging youths in the state system allows the counties to deal with the others who get into trouble for skipping school, running away from home and other offenses that wouldn’t be crimes if committed by adults.

County oversight is much cheaper, according to Moll, the think-tank analyst. The average daily cost for each incarcerated youth in any of Texas’ six state-run detention centers is over $400, but in county facilities it is about $140 less.

Texas – as Georgia is planning – took some of the money it had spent on its state-run system and transferred it to the counties. Some critics in Georgia have expressed fear that state officials would shift responsibilities to the local governments but not shift adequate funds.

That hasn’t been a problem in Texas.

If Texas were indeed to pass the cost of reforming the youngsters to the counties, the local governments would have the option of closing their facilities, Moll said. Thus, the Legislature has a strong incentive not to create any unfunded mandates.

However, state Sen. Kel Seliger, the former vice chairman of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, one of two legislative panels that investigated the reports of brutality, cautioned about getting excited over the cost savings the reforms to the juvenile justice system have triggered.

“This was not intended to be a money-saving issue,” said Seliger, R-Amarillo. “It was intended to reform the system.”

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Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 12/25/12 - 11:00 pm
3
0
It would work if those who

It would work if those who are supposed to be monitoring the youth were actually monitoring or cared a little more about what the youth are doing when they are on house arrest or probation.

rbndawn
37
Points
rbndawn 12/25/12 - 11:16 pm
3
0
House detention

How about placing a juvenile in the parents home with an ankle bracelet and let them pay the expense and deal with their
parenting failure.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 12/26/12 - 12:17 am
2
0
Ankle monitors don't work

Ankle monitors don't work either.

cm51
145
Points
cm51 12/26/12 - 04:33 am
4
0
I know a man, who right now

I know a man, who right now is serving time in Georgia (not a juvenile) for car theft; his brother bought a junk car to sell for scrap, and asked him to go and pick it up for him. He phoned the "seller" to make arrangements to pick it up. The seller told him the time and the day, but said that he would be at work, but just to pick it up anyway. After he picked it up, the "seller" reported it stolen, and my friend ended up getting time for it. To make a long story short, he is in prison in South Georgia for two more years..........things like cell phones are contraband and thus not allowed. If you are caught with one, you get time added to your sentence.........How do they get them ??? The GUARDS go to Walmart and purchase $50 STRAIGHT TALK phones, and sell them to the inmates for the going rate of $1000 a month. Inmates group together and pool the monies they get from home to rent the phones for the month. Sure, not all of the inmates are angels, but this "under the radar" crime is ludicrous. It isn't any better in the privately run prisons in Georgia; there the inmates are allowed to use the phone twice a day, but there is a 15 minute (cash only) minimum @ $1.00 per minute...............

cm51
145
Points
cm51 12/26/12 - 04:44 am
2
0
CHECK THE NUMBERS

Almost ALL juvenile offenders ARE repeat offenders; the "real" cost in these people is the process of processing them over and over again, "knowing" that they will be back time and time again. I really think the issue is simple..........ALL first timers get a 90 day sentence........during that time, give them a warm bed, three decent meals a day, and NOTHING else (no recreation time, television, library, or internet, etc.).......Do NOT attempt to "rehab" them, they know the system and how to work it...........2nd offense is easy.......LIFE / FOREVER / NOT GETTING OUT / YOU WILL DIE HERE !!!! While the hard core type will challenge this, the young kid who is just "feeling his oats" will pay attention and in most cases "rehab himself".

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 12/26/12 - 06:06 am
2
1
A nice recap of the press

A nice recap of the press release sent out by the Koch Brothers' funded Texas Public Policy Foundation which also is in an incestuous relationship with ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council). (Moll works for both). It's interesting that even though juvenile crime has had a major decrease nationwide, as has virtually all crime (except for drug possession), from 1990-2010, she claims her group's laws are responsible for the decreases in Texas. Since ALEC has been one of the major lobbyists for the private prison industry, I'd be very wary of any model legislation they put forth. Corporations don't pay these groups big bucks to plan legislation to improve crime statistics, they're paid to improve the bottom line. That's what corporate lobbyists are for.
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/aus9010.pdf

Little Lamb
44975
Points
Little Lamb 12/26/12 - 09:44 am
3
0
Just a thought

So, by implementing this policy of sending non-violent offenders to county facilities and sending only violent offenders to state juvenile facilities, the population in state juvenile facilities fell from 4,700 to <1,500. The only problem is that the rate of violence inside those state facilities has increased. They are forming gangs inside the juvenile facilities.

Well, one solution would be solitary. With the decrease in population, there is now room to assign each offender to a private cell. Solitary confinement has been shown to work. No inmate (I'm sure they call them something else in Juvey, like "client," "student," "charge," or something meant to build up the punks’ self-esteem) should be allowed any contact with any other inmate. They should shower alone, eat alone in their cell, exercise alone, read alone, etc. - - - - - no communal activities.

That ought to cut down on violence inside Juvey.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/26/12 - 09:54 am
2
0
County Run - Is better run

because the state sure has hosed it up with all their Touchy-Feely PC Social experimental idea's and "campus" environment concepts.

I also like the idea to Violent & repeat offenders being the focus for lockup.

Strict House arrest and ankle tracking for the dumb ones.

Provided that ANY violation results in immediate transfer to the JDF.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/26/12 - 10:17 am
2
0
Passing note

The liberals look to California for new Touchy-Feely ideas and experiments.

But more and more we seem to be finding things that work in real life include basic logic, discipline and uniformed enforcement, which seem to be coming out of traditionally conservative states like Texas.

Its like wondering why Liberal Anti Gun leaning states have many more Mass murders than Conservative states, which have fewer?

oldredneckman96
5032
Points
oldredneckman96 12/26/12 - 11:53 am
1
1
youth crime
Unpublished

Parents should be held responceable for thier children. If your kids commit a crime the parent should do the time.

soapy_725
43672
Points
soapy_725 12/26/12 - 12:32 pm
0
0
Sending them home?
Unpublished

The environment at their home contributed to their incarceration. Before they get home, their criminal friends are already waiting at the door. Beer, drugs and fried food are the welcome home gifts. There is no responsible adult at home. A responsible adult at home would have prevented the "yuts' from being in jail.

Lawlessness is in control. Laws are for law abiding citizens and when the lawless are in the majority, only chaos can prevail. Police do not go into areas controlled by the lawless, gangs,etc. Police only go to clean up the remains and make a report for the statistics.

Prohibition is the ultimate test case for "legislative morality". It absolutely does not work. It would take at least one police officer for each criminal to even have a change at preventing crime.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 12/26/12 - 10:39 pm
0
0
oldredneckman...

I agree. If the world didn't make so many excuses for everything, parents could be parents. Instead of law enforcement, judges, and juvenile justice being their parents. Need to get back to old-fashioned lifestyles and living.

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