• 7th District
  • Criminal Justice Reform

    Georgia currently spends more than $1 billion on annual management of 33 state prisons and other correctional facilities across the state. The prison population has increased in the past decade, as has the recidivism rate for these offenders. A Babbage administration proposes changes to the Criminal Justice Reform that focuses on every stage of offender vulnerability, incarceration, and re-entry. Throughout the term, community-centered police partnerships will be furthered, where possible, and initiated through statewide programs that bring police presence into communities to build neighborhoods, facilitate safety, and improve social services. These programs, under the oversight of a Community Advocate Advisory Board, exist as an integral part of The Trade Out Program (TTOP) which will address issues for offenders and those at risk for incarceration as follows:

    Georgia currently spends more than $1 billion on annual management of 33 state prisons and other correctional facilities across the state. The prison population has increased in the past decade, as has the recidivism rate for these offenders. A Babbage administration proposes changes to the Criminal Justice Reform that focuses on every stage of offender vulnerability, incarceration, and re-entry. Throughout the term, community-centered police partnerships will be furthered, where possible, and initiated through statewide programs that bring police presence into communities to build neighborhoods, facilitate safety, and improve social services. These programs, under the oversight of a Community Advocate Advisory Board, exist as an integral part of The Trade Out Program (TTOP) which will address issues for offenders and those at risk for incarceration as follows:

    At-Risk for Incarceration

    The school-to-prison pipeline plaguing many areas in Georgia is not a new phenomenon, but it is one that cannot continue. To thwart the incarceration of at-risk individuals TTOP will work with local and state Boards of Education, business partners, non-profit organizations, community leaders, the legislature, as well as faith-based organizations to coordinate and implement after school programs that engage young people in grades 3-8, whom are at the highest risks for victimization and exploitation, both academically and socially. Funding for such programs extends opportunities to channel the productivity of these students toward growth-directives including mentoring programs, academic extensions, sport and fitness opportunities, and other special interest programs yet to be developed.

    Students who are at risk for incarceration will be identified based on data from local schools as well as joint reports from the state board so that targeted interventions are implemented through a joint venture with community stakeholders that creates additional job opportunities, foster community-based safety nets, and improve home-school influence while decreasing the number of students in grades 3-8 who are at risk for incarceration.

    Offender Vulnerability

    Men and women in Georgia who encompass the disconnected youth, aged 18 to 24, who are unemployed and do not hold a high school diploma, those who are teen parents and remain in school, as well as members of those families who experience food insecurity are considered offender vulnerable. Each can take a different path to stability, however, TTOP will provide opportunities to work with various technical and state schools of higher education to provide workplace re-education training in an effort to decrease the incidences of offender vulnerability for these marginalized groups.

    The Community Advocate Advisory Board will also work with local communities to coordinate social services, counseling, and apprenticeship to those same individuals that are categorized as disconnected youth.

    Incarcerated Individuals (non-violent citizens)

    Non-violent first offenders currently awaiting trial should begin being processed for “own recognizance” release following a counseling session which includes an evaluation for mental health, eligibility for social services, and recommendation for apprenticeship if unemployed at the time of arrest. Repeat non-violent offenders are invited to be considered for “own recognizance” release following a more extensive counseling session. These releases grant non-violent offenders the opportunity to maintain employment, housing, custody, as well as prepare defenses without becoming additionally burdened by the financial obligations caused by incarceration such as criminal justice debt.

    In working to decriminalize traffic offenses and working with the legislature and the court system to reduce penalties for minor misdemeanors such as vandalism, public drunkenness, trespass, and other similar charges that hinder self-sufficiency and discourage rehabilitation. Additional outreach available upon release to non-violent offenders include oversight and monitoring toward a workforce strategy that provides credentialing to workers for family-sustaining employment. TTOP will pursue a legislative path to reducing the duration of penalties for individuals who participate in a re-entry program while incarcerated through a joint partnership with various stakeholder agencies.

    Incarcerated Individuals (violent citizens)

    Incarcerated individuals that have been charged with violent crimes such as offenses against property, assault, and drug related charges as a first offense may be eligible for “own recognizance” release under circumstances when they complete a 24-hour rehabilitation session that includes screening for mental illness and eligibility for social services. However, individuals who are currently serving sentences for conviction of violent crimes as previously identified may be eligible for reduced sentences and credit for time served when certain circumstances apply. TTOP will work with the legislature and the court system to reduce the length of future sentences for similar offenses, while seeking legislation that will offer a reduction in the duration of penalties for individuals who participate in a re-entry program while incarcerated through a joint partnership with various stakeholder agencies. A committee to investigate the possibility to offer similar programs to expand the list of convictions that are eligible for the re-entry program will be formed within the first 100 days of the administration.

    Re-Entry

    TTOP seeks to facilitate legislation that will off a formal re-entry program for all offenders serving time in state-run correctional facilities and state prisons. These programs require offenders to participate in mandated counseling, workforce re-education, mental health screening, GED course work, as well as a physical screening for communicable disease.

    The success of re-entry programs are a key component of the recidivism process. Joining with various non-profit and community organizations to support the re-entry outreach promoted by the Administration will be immediately sought, in effort to improve Georgia’s prison ranking and decrease the incarcerated population in our state.

    Mediated Sentences

    A Task Force to evaluate the penalties of 55,000 incarcerated individuals with felony sentences to identify disparages, based on socio-economic factors, that seek to rectify the wide-ranging impacts of social injustice when it comes to targeting specific groups of individuals convicted in the six large category felony charges (violent, sexual, drug, property, habitual DUI, and other violent crimes). Of those individuals serving felony sentences, 44,226 do not have any education beyond twelfth grade. In fact, the vast majority did not graduate from high school. These individuals were marginalized prior to their incarceration and have fallen through the gaps left by Georgians, Georgians in government, communities, and organizations. In an effort to offer these offenders the second chance they should have been given through support while in middle school, the task force will seek to mediate sentences, especially for those convictions such as drug or property related offenses. Additionally, a wide ranging mental health screening for the more than 35,000 incarcerated individuals who have never had an evaluation. While screenings will not automatically mitigate sentences, certain inmates may qualify for mental health services as a result of these screenings.

    Finally, the Task Force will work with the Veterans Administration to adjudicate the sentences of more than 2,000 veterans currently incarcerated in Georgia. Working with state agencies such as DOC Transitional Services, community coalitions, and the US Attorney’s Office to mitigate the felony sentences of individuals under the age of twenty and over the age of 70. This alone is a savings of over $81,600,000 annually to the Georgia fiscal budget. The Task Force will continue to support efforts to reform the juvenile justice system and juvenile department of corrections.

    While Georgia ranks 41st in state incarcerations, with nearly 54,000 people incarcerated, the state is number one when it comes to the number of people under supervision. The Five Fold Plan for Progress gives those under supervision the tools they need to become self sustainable, contributing members of society again. Many contributing factors to becoming ‘under supervision’ have to do with economic and education disparages in communities where few other routes to sustainability abound.

    To begin criminal justice reform, the administration pledges to:

    • Work with local law enforcement to provide ongoing sensitivity training, evaluation, and supports that decrease profiling, police brutality, and perceived police aggression in certain communities.
    • Offer a cost-of-living increase to all law enforcement of 3-5% within twelve months.
    • Work with various special interest groups, nonprofit organizations, and the criminal court system to reduce the supervised population, such as applicable non-violent offenders.
    • Evaluate the 54,000 inmates, beginning with non-violent offenders for participation in the Governor’s Trade Out program.

    Trade Out Program

    One economic purpose is to increase manufacturing operations in the areas of acrylic polymers, aluminum alloys, contact lenses, motor vehicle parts, and the like in the form of small businesses that are part of 5FPFP’s Trade Out Program, in order to increase labor-based jobs in rural communities (specifically Pelham, Unadilla, Morgan, Wrightsville, Abbeville, and Garden City, Georgia). Current relationships include top manufacturers Dow Chemical (Trion State Prison), Exxon Mobil (Coastal State Prison), and BASF (Dodge State Prison).

    The Trade Out Program partners with minimum and medium security state prisons and existing manufacturing companies to train non-violent offenders with trades that will provide inmates with sustainable options upon release as well as condensing sentences for those with eligibility for parole while expanding Georgia’s current primary exports that are scalable to the small business format.

    Supervision Reductions

    While men make up the bulk of incarcerated Georgians, those under supervision range by gender, age, education, and ethnicity. Many of whom, however, fall into lower socioeconomic status, becoming indebted to the court system for monitoring when found guilty of non-violent offenses. Reducing supervision releases individuals back to the working population by providing a clear path towards regaining sufficiency. This has a direct correlation to the stability of our communities and the quality of life for all Georgians.