Lawmakers: Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Boggs delivers the State of the Judiciary on Day 30
Georgia Senators and Representatives convened in a special joint session on Day 30 to hear Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael P. Boggs give his State of the Judiciary address.
Boggs used the address to highlight hurdles that the judicial system in Georgia is facing. The court system is still dealing with a massive backlog of criminal and civil cases filed during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Fulton County alone, Boggs said there were more than 14,000 unindicted felony cases.
"Unlike the Braves baseball games that were scratched from the calendar in the 2020 season never to be played again, the legal needs of Georgia citizens continued and often worsened during the pandemic" he said.
A workforce issue in the court system is contributing to an overwhelmed judiciary. Boggs said that the Prosecuting Attorneys Council is reporting the highest vacancy rate and turnover rate in recent Georgia history.
Governor Kemp allotted $96 million in federal funds to courts and prosecutors and $14 million to public defenders to work through the backlog of cases and hire more attorneys.
Georgia's prisons are also crowded, and Boggs shed some light on the problem. One in 13 Georgians are imprisoned, according to Boggs.
He also called attention to the mental health crisis in Georgia and around the nation.
"While those with mental illnesses are generally arrested for minor crimes like criminal trespass or loitering, once incarcerated they tend to stay four to eight times longer in jail and at seven times the cost. In our own DOC [Department of Corrections], the mental health population has grown one hundred percent in the last two decades.” He added that a quarter of Georgia's prison population suffers from mental health issues.
Boggs praised the legislature and the late Speaker David Ralston for their commitment to improving mental healthcare in Georgia.