The Safe Streets Act
By Senator Bill Hamrick
As of December 2009, Carroll County had a total of 1,746 probationers and parolees. Douglas County had a total of 4,929 probationers and parolees. Paulding County had a total of 1,456 probationers and parolees. Of these 7,193 offenders, more than 28 percent will commit another crime. These are hard facts that must be addressed. Unfortunately, tough economic realities are forcing the state legislature to consider ways to cut costs, particularly within the Department of Corrections.
Our top priority is, and will always be, maintaining a safe environment for the citizens of Georgia. To address this issue of budget cuts, I have proposed Senate Bill 403, the Safe Streets Act. This legislation will require that as a condition of probation or parole, the offender will waive their rights to the Fourth Amendment. This simply means that law enforcement officers can search a person or their belongings without a warrant, saving taxpayer money, saving time and creating efficiency.
The offenders are not permitted this right while imprisoned, and once they are released into a probation or parole system, they are still under the authority of the Department of Corrections. This legislation is a continuation of their debt to the state.
I understand this legislation may create an added burden to our prison system so it is important that we also look into other options for non-violent offenders since they are not a threat to the physical safety of citizens.
Of course this is not the only answer to keeping the number of repeat offenders down, we must also look into programs that will help re-enter the offenders into society and help them become productive members of society. For now, with the budget facing certain cuts, this is a significant step and one that I believe will make a difference. It is a hard crime bill, but I believe it is crucial crime bill.
Other states are considering similar legislation. Senator McConnell of South Carolina has authored a bill with similar language allowing law enforcement warrant-less searches of parolees and probationers. Georgia is not the only state making hard decisions with hard budget numbers.
As always, I am proud to serve my constituents of the 30th district of Georgia and continue to work on your behalf on a daily basis. We face significant challenges this year, but I am confident that we will overcome them to ensure Georgia can thrive for the future of our children and grandchildren.
Sen. Bill Hamrick serves as Chairman of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. He represents the 30th Senate District which includes portions of Carroll, Douglas, and Paulding counties. He may be reached at 404.656.0036 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.