Republican Governor Nathan Deal began his inaugural speech yesterday talking about reforms to Georgia’s criminal justice system. The prominence of the issue gained some praise from Democrats.
Faced with a shrinking state budget, Governor Deal said Georgia spends about 3 million dollars a day to run the Department of Corrections and he laid out the statistics.
“The challenge is great. Presently one out of every 13 Georgians is under some form of correctional control.”
Deal hinted at trying to cut costs by offering alternatives like drug courts and mental health services for non-violent offenders who want to change. The focus on criminal justice reform in an inaugural speech was welcome by Democrat Stacey Abrams, the new house minority leader.
“I think that his push for better treatment of prisoners to move toward treatment rather than our system of simple incarceration is also encouraging.“
Also in Deal’s corner on the issue might be House Speaker David Ralston. He told reporters last week that the state should evaluate whether it still makes sense to imprison illegal drug users.