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Sunday, September 20, 2009 - 6:50pm

Georgia's Juvenile Laws Under Review

On Monday a state Senate committee will hold its first hearing on a proposed new code for Georgia’s juvenile justice system.

The laws dealing with juvenile offenders in Georgia are 40 years old, and advocates say they no longer work for today’s youth.

For one, they say, new research on teenage brain development needs to be considered. The new bill is 223 pages long and was developed over a three year time period.

"Juvenile judges, lawyers who represent kids, district attorneys, social workers have all come together to say 'we need a new code,'" said Mindy Binderman with the Just Georgia Coalition, the group pushing the changes.

"The (current) code is confusing," Binderman said. "It doesn't promote the best outcome for the kid."

Binderman said her group knows it's fighting an uphill battle with the legislature, especially since implementing the new code would cost money.

One of the bill's provisions includes an attorney for each juvenile and the requirement that one judge sees each case through the system. Currently neither is the case, according to Binderman.

She said a new code, while more costly on the front end, will result in more rehabilitated juvenile offenders in the state.