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Juvenile Justice Reform for Georgia
HB 242 is the result of the diligence and hard work of the JUSTGeorgia coalition and the Governor's criminal justice reform council. This bill will provide more community-based support services, rather than lock-up, for children who are entering our juvenile justice system.

ICM sees the this legislation as forward movement in improving the lives of children and creating healthier communities in Georgia. The CHINS article (Article 5) is a necessary and logical step to reducing the overwhelming recidivism of Georgia's children within our juvenile justice system. As a member of the JUSTGeorgia coalition, ICM will continue to travel across Georgia to promote juvenile justice reform and encourage faith communities to become informed, involved and engaged in being a part of the solution.


A sea change is underway in our nation’s approach to dealing with young people who get in trouble with the law. Although we still lead the industrialized world in the rate at which we lock up young people, the youth confinement rate in the United States is rapidly declining.

Use this link for a detailed look at Youth Incarceration in the U.S. by state.

Georgia's troubled effort to reduce juvenile crime (The Center for Public Integrity)

"Do we believe that we can change people when they're younger so they don't commit further crimes?” said Tom Rawlings, the state’s child advocate under ex-Gov. Sonny Perdue. “If that is the belief, then we have to start acting like it.”

Otherwise, Rawlings said, "we're essentially spending a ton of money locking up offenders in expensive hotels and then, at the end of their stay, telling them, 'We'll leave the light on for you.'" 


Federal Juvenile Justice Legislation Pending 
On the federal level, these pieces of legislation support the continued effort to reduce the number of children who enter the juvenile justice system through community-based prevention and intervention programs.  The 111th Congress has yet to pass them.

U.S. Supreme Court Rules on Juveniles Serving Life without Parole 
Article below from npr.org, May 17, 2010:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that it is an unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment to lock up teenagers for life without any chance of parole - if they didn't kill anybody.

The 6-to-3 ruling could open the prison doors for at least some of the 129 people serving life terms without parole for non-homicide crimes committed when they were under 18.  [More "Supreme Court Rejects Life without Parole for Some Juveniles"] 

Access the Court's written opinion here.

U.S. Supreme Court Deliberates "Life Without Parole" for Juveniles
On November 9, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court took on the issue of juveniles receiving a sentence of life without parole.  The Court heard two Florida cases.  An account of that hearing can be found at NPR.
A map illustrating state-by-state how many inmates were sentenced to life without parole when they were juveniles can be found at PBS

Legislation, fairness to children is goal of JUSTGeorgia
ATLANTA (Oct. 3, 2007) ― Three Atlanta-based non-profits have joined to build a statewide coalition supporting an initiative to improve outcomes for at-risk children in Georgia’s juvenile justice system.
This initiative, officially named JUSTGeorgia, is a partnership between the Georgia Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic of Emory University and Voices for Georgia’s Children. JUSTGeorgia is committed to making Georgia’s justice and social service systems equitable to children. Its two primary objectives are the introduction of a new Georgia Juvenile Code and changes in system practices covering health, education, and children’s services that will reduce juvenile crime, antisocial behavior, and promote safer communities.
The ultimate goal of JUSTGeorgia is to gain sponsorship for legislation addressing these objectives ready for passage by the 2010 session.
Government and law enforcement officials alike have long acknowledged the need for reorganizing and reforming the existing juvenile code, with the Georgia General Assembly calling for its complete overhaul through a 2005 resolution. A model draft for a new juvenile code is currently being written by the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia (YLD). Separately, more than 170 lawyers representing the state’s top legal firms have volunteered to gather input from a diverse constituency ranging from youthful offenders to juvenile court justices. These volunteers will conduct interviews across Georgia’s 10 judicial districts to learn how the existing code works in practice and what elements need changing or improvement.
JUSTGeorgia will be responsible for translating the re-written code and information gathered from the judicial districts into a final legislative package, and then gain sponsorship for a bill putting the new juvenile code into law. During this process, it will develop and implement communications and grass roots advocacy strategies promoting commitment and participation among child advocates in all sectors, including business, faith, service, and government organizations.
The Model Juvenile Code produced by Georgia's Younger Lawyers Division (YLD) won the "Most Outstanding" Award by the American Bar Association. This award recognizes the work the YLD has done here in Georgia by providing outstanding guidance to the law profession in improving juvenile court law and practice. Great job!


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