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Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 3:16am

Juvenile Code Overhaul Passes

House lawmakers have approved a large overhaul of Georgia's juvenile justice system.

Republican Rep. Wendell Willard of Sandy Springs said Wednesday the goal was to move Georgia's code into conformity with federal standards and focus on treatment juvenile offenders in their communities, not incarcerating them. The bill passed 172-0. It now heads to the state Senate.

Willard said the legislation will require that juvenile courts do a mandatory assessment of the mental health and other needs of children before committing them to state custody. Those assessments are not currently required.

Willard said more funding will likely be needed to support alternative treatment programs. He said state officials will conduct a study to determine how much more money is necessary.