Georgia Governor Signs SB 367 to Advance Criminal Justice Reforms

 Georgia-seal-Gov1

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has signed into law Senate Bill 367 (SB 367) to advance comprehensive reform for offenders entering, proceeding through, and leaving the criminal justice system to promote their successful reentry into society, benefit the public, and enact reforms recommended by the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform, according to a press release on the Office of the Governor’s website.

“This legislation is the latest step in advancing our criminal justice reforms,” Governor Deal stated in the press release about Georgia SB 367, which builds upon his previous criminal justice reform initiatives. “Along with restoring the original intent of the First Offender Act, this bill increases access to charter schools in our prison system and seeks to address the ‘school to prison pipeline.’”

According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, Georgia’s overall prison population has decreased to approximately 53,800 inmates as of March 31, 2016, as a result of reforms previously passed by the legislature. The percentage of non-violent first offenders incarcerated has significantly dropped, while prison beds are now reserved for violent criminals. Among other initiatives, Georgia SB 367:

  • Restores the intent of the First Offender Act, updating the process for the 21st century to ensure that cases are properly closed upon completion of sentences.
  • Codifies Georgia’s accountability courts in order to grant them the authority they need to efficiently administer justice to those under their purview.
  • Restricts secure detention for all youth ages 13 and under, except for those charged with the most egregious of offenses where a clear public safety issue exists.
  • Adjusts public school disruption statutes so that students are appropriately handled through the disciplinary process rather than sent to a youth detention center or delinquent facility
  • Removes the lifetime ban on food stamp eligibility after a felony drug conviction, subject to the successful completion of their sentence and probation.
  • Extends parole eligibility to non-violent recidivist drug offenders, allowing them the needed transition period for proper reentry upon completion of their sentences.
  • Furthers last year’s executive order “banning the box” for most state government jobs, now expanding to licensure applications.

“This bill makes great strides in reducing our recidivism rates, ensuring safer communities, and expanding our accountability court system,” Governor Deal stated in the press release. More information about Georgia SB 367 – which builds upon Governor Deal’s previous criminal justice reform initiatives – is available at www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20152016/SB/367.

As reported earlier by ESR News, Governor Deal signed an Executive Order in February of 2015 that made Georgia the 14th state to “Ban the Box” so applicants for state jobs would no longer be required to disclose their criminal histories on applications. A copy of the Executive Order is available at gov.georgia.gov/sites/gov.georgia.gov/files/related_files/document/02.23.15.03.pdf.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) supports fair and informed Ban the Box laws that seek to remove the box on applications that applicants must check if they have a criminal record. Ban the Box is spreading rapidly as more than 100 cities and counties as well as 19 states have some form of Ban the Box legislation. For more Ban the Box information, visit www.esrcheck.com/Ban-the-Box/.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a global provider of fast, accurate, and compliant background checks – has also released a whitepaper entitled “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce” to help job applicants with criminal records reenter society. The complimentary whitepaper is available at www.esrcheck.com/Whitepapers/Ten-Steps-for-Ex-Offenders-to-Get-Back-in-Workforce/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this web site is for educational purposes only.

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