Governor Nathan Deal (R - Georgia) made criminal justice reform a key part of his first term agenda.
Shortly after taking office, Governor Deal convened the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians to look at ways the state could, according to Deal, "get to work on promoting recovery and rehabilitation rather than a system that simply hardens criminals."
For three consecutive years, the Governor signed into law criminal justice reform bills that: A.) establishes alternatives to incarceration for low-level, non-violent drug and property offenders and reserves expensive prison beds for the most dangerous offenders; B.) restores judicial discretion by allowing a departure from mandatory minimum sentences in some very limited circumstances; and C.) help rehabilitated offenders successfully re-enter society by removing barriers to employment, housing and education.
Governor Deal's focus criminal justice reform seems to be paying off.
An Atlanta Journal Constitution report said fewer black Georgians are being sent to prison.
“Since taking office, I have spearheaded legislation to overhaul Georgia’s adult and juvenile criminal justice systems because we simply could not afford the continually increasing costs of incarceration,” Deal said. “Accountability court funding and improved rules for probation detention centers have successfully addressed the large jail backlog and high costs paid to counties housing state offenders. By identifying low-risk, nonviolent offenders and more effective ways to rehabilitate them, we are steering these offenders away from a life of crime and reserving our expensive prison beds for the violent offenders who pose a public safety risk.”