Georgia has the highest rate of people who are in the corrections system in the U.S. According to WSB News, currently 1 in 13 people in Georgia is in prison, on probation or on parole. It's well-known that Georgia's prisons are overcrowded, and in these tough economic times the state's budget is strapped.
Now government leaders are trying to come up with solutions to save the state money and also keep nonviolent offenders, such as those charged with drug possession, out of prison, especially if, rather than criminal intent, a problem with drug or alcohol addiction is underlying their crimes.
LaFayette Republican Rep. Jay Neal wants to create a 10-member commission to study the current corrections system and sentencing guidelines in Georgia and make recommendations for an overhaul. Governor Nathan Deal is in support of the legislation and needed reforms.
In support of the legislation, Deal pointed out recently that three-quarters of Georgia's prison population is believed to have a problem with drug addiction. According to WSB News, Deal also pointed out that the state pays $3,800 a year for each child in the public schools and $18,000 a year to keep an inmate in prison.
Deal and many Georgia legislators want to see more DUI courts, drug courts and mental health courts to keep people who commit nonviolent crimes or are addicted to alcohol and drugs out of jails if possible and directed toward needed help and services.
Ga. Leaders Back Sentencing Reform Study (WSB News)