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Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 1:38pm

Criminal Justice Bill Passes House

The Georgia House overwhelmingly approved a proposal Thursday to overhaul Georgia’s criminal justice system.

The sentencing reform package was months in the making--- with proponents complaining that the state’s billion dollar corrections system not only costs too much, it’s often ineffective.

A Special Joint Committee on Criminal Justice Reform has been tweaking legislation for months--- the goal is to reduce the state’s prison population while ensuring public safety.

Making changes to current sentencing laws became even more of a priority when projections came out showing that Georgia taxpayers would have to spend over 260 million dollars for more prison beds.

Representative Rick Golick of Smyrna describes the new approach, which offers rehabilitation to non-violent offenders instead of locking them up and taking up those pricy prison beds:

“When we go ahead and have alternative sentencing mechanisms, including drug courts, including community based probation, we give that individual a chance, not a guarantee, a chance to be a productive member of our society.”

The bill heads to the Senate for a vote next, before being signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal.