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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 12:12pm

Small Victories For Juvenile Justice

A bill to rewrite the entire state legal code that deals with children did not pass this year's legislative session. But there were smaller changes for juvenile justice.

Georgia lawmakers allocated money this year to tighten security at the state’s 27 juvenile detention centers.
The Legislature also expanded the scope of “mandatory reporting” of child abuse to include coaches, in the wake of the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State.

Kirsten Widener with Emory University’s Child Law Center says the new legislation will improve dangerous conditions at Juvenile Justice Facilities:

“We believe the Department has taken great steps to alleviate those problems, both with some of these budget initiatives, and with the revision to their contraband statute to prohibit cell phones in their facilities.”

Opponents of the comprehensive juvenile justice reform bill were concerned about the cost to local governments.

Sara Totonchi with the Southern Center for Human Rights says juvenile justice reform will pass once lawmakers are convinced it would save taxpayers money:

“Similarly to the adult criminal justice reforms, being looked at through a lens of cost savings, I think we need to make that same case for the reforms to the juvenile justice reform and show how those reforms would impact public safety in a positive way but also result in taxpayer savings.”