Mon., June 6, 2011 2:15pm (EDT)

Council Takes Up Prison-Sentencing Reform
By Melissa Stiers
Updated: 3 years ago

ATLANTA  —  
(photo by Tony Hammond via flickr)
(photo by Tony Hammond via flickr)
A group charged with reforming Georgia’s criminal justice system begins its work Tuesday.

Georgia has the fifth largest prison population in the nation, according to the latest Pew Center report.

Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court Carol Hunstein says that costs the state a billion dollars a year, and it’s time to reduce the incarceration rate by keeping low level offenders out of jail.

"So it’s important that we don’t put them in the prison system.. that we do something to improve their behavior, to address the addiction problem, to address the work problem, the child support problems instead of putting them in the prison system when we know they’re going to come out and almost certainly commit other crimes."

Hunstein sits on the Special Council of Criminal Justice Reform which will make recommendations this fall on how to change Georgia’s sentencing laws to bring the prison population down.

Other states have opened more drug and mental health courts. Georgia’s budget included over $2 million to do the same this year.