ATLANTA (March 9, 2012) – Sen. Bill Hamrick (R-Carrollton), a longtime advocate for the reformation of Georgia’s criminal justice system, will be the driving force behind House Bill 1176 in the Georgia Senate. HB 1176 was introduced by Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna) on February 27 after several months of bipartisan work by the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians. Sen. Hamrick served as a legislative member of the Council.
HB 1176 is currently being considered by the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Criminal Justice Reform. The Committee is comprised of eight Senate members and nine House members and is co-chaired by Sen. Hamrick and Rep. Golick.
“This bill is the result of many long hours spent analyzing data, conducting interviews with key stakeholders and researching other states pursuing similar reform measures,” said Sen. Hamrick. “By forming a Joint Committee, we are able to facilitate open discussions with the House and efficiently amend the bill to its best possible draft. Georgia is facing new costs of $264 million in the next five years if no action is taken, and we don’t have time to waste.”
The overall intention of HB 1176 is to strengthen penalties for violent and career criminals, while providing more effective punishments for low-level drug users and property offenders. By creating a rehabilitation-based system for low-level offenders, prison space will be freed up in order to keep the most dangerous offenders behind bars. Specific initiatives include creating a tougher process for probation and parole supervision; expanding proven community-based sentencing options, such as accountability courts and substance abuse and mental health programs, that reduce recidivism; and holding agencies accountable for better results by implementing systematic data collection and performance measurement systems.
If approved by the General Assembly, the legislation will place Georgia in the company of more than a dozen states—including Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas and Kentucky—that are currently implementing criminal justice policies designed to improve public safety, hold offenders accountable, and control corrections costs.
On March 1 and 2, the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Criminal Justice Reform heard testimony from superior court judges, county officials, victim advocates and prosecutors regarding HB 1176.
HB 1176 must now be voted out of the Joint Committee by a majority vote, and then pass the both the Georgia House and Senate before it can be enacted. There are 10 days remaining in the 2012 Legislative Session of the Georgia General Assembly.