Politics

New Georgia Criminal Justice Reform Expansion Takes Effect

Gov. Nathan Deal signs a criminal justice reform bill earlier this year.
Gov. Nathan Deal signs a criminal justice reform bill earlier this year.
Credit Johnny Kauffman / WABE

A new state law that allows for an expansion of criminal justice reforms went into effect this month. It’s the fifth set of reforms Georgia has been working on to overhaul the system.

The reform package, which took recommendations from the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform, is broad. It includes creating charter schools in correctional facilities, reforming school discipline procedures, and preventing professional licensing boards from denying licenses to people based solely on their criminal history.

It also lifts a lifetime ban on food stamps for drug felons in Georgia, a ban only a few states still have.

“Year after year the state has come back with reform after reform, and at this point, these are some of the most significant and far-reaching reforms across the country,” said Adam Gelb, director of Pew Charitable Trust’s Public Safety Performance Project. “They’re digging deeper and deeper, which is essential because the system is so vast and so complex.”

Gov. Nathan Deal has said the reforms have reduced the state’s prison population by more than 2,000 people in the last five years.

Deal is scheduled to speak on the state’s reform efforts at the Republican National Convention in Ohio later this month.