By: Sen. Bill Hamrick (R-Carrollton)
ATLANTA (March 2, 2012) – Reforming Georgia’s juvenile justice code has long been a priority of mine. For many years, this system has operated under code provisions that are outdated and ineffective; hampering our state’s ability to move children out of the juvenile court system permanently.
Back in 2009, I drafted legislation that called for substantial changes and the modernization of the juvenile court provisions found in the Georgia Code of Law. This legislation then became the foundation for the Child Protection and Public Safety Act, which was introduced this year as Senate Bill 127 and as House Bill 641.
Under existing state code, provisions dealing with abuse and neglect are combined with those relating to delinquency and criminal action. As you can see, this is problematic. These situations need and deserve very different courses of action, because the ultimate goal is to move children out of Georgia’s juvenile courts system—permanently. However, our state is in need of a more efficient system that rehabilitates and counsels both youth and families.
One of the most important components of the Child Protection and Public Safety Act asks for twelve well-defined articles outlining the child’s rights to procedural due process, family preservation, proper representation and available services; dependent on the reason for juvenile court intervention.
On February 29, the House of Representatives passed HB 641 with a vote of 172 – 0. HB 641 is sponsored by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs), another longtime advocate for the reform of Georgia’s juvenile code. Approximately two weeks earlier, SB 127 passed the Senate Judiciary committee. I am pleased to see the House show such overwhelming support for HB 641, and I hope the bill receives the same reception in the Senate.
Provisions of certain Child Protection and Public Safety Act articles include:
Like with any program implementation, there are always up-front costs. However, the long-term cost savings of the Child Protection and Public Safety Act are great. Providing children with life skills training, early intervention programs and treatment greatly reduces their chance of becoming a burden on the state later in life.
As you can see below, the long-term cost savings of the following initiatives are much higher than the initial costs:
Right now, we are failing thousands of Georgia youth by perpetuating their existence in a broken system. Their experience in the juvenile courts needs to be a teachable moment, because there is a future outside of the courts system. With the proper rehabilitation, there is no reason as to why these children cannot become successful and happy adults.
For Immediate Release:
March 2, 2012
For Information Contact:
Natalie Dale, Director