Deals signs criminal justice reform bill - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Deals signs criminal justice reform bill

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal

Georgia's criminal justice system faces some big changes. Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law HB 1176, which seeks alternative treatments for punishing nonviolent crimes and frees up prison space for offenders who pose a danger to society, according to the governor's office.

[Read a summary of reforms involved with HB 1176]

"With this bold new direction in criminal justice, we will bolster public safety, increase our chances of rehabilitating lives and bend the unsustainable cost curve we face in our prison system," Deal said in a statement. "We spend $1.2 billion a year on our prison system and those costs were set to soar far beyond what we can afford. That makes no sense for taxpayers when there are most cost-effective means that have better outcomes.

The law the result of recommendations from the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians, which was created in the 2011 legislative session, according to the council's report.

The law focuses on: reserving prison beds for serious offenders by focusing on four areas to improve Georgia's public safety recording, according to the report.

It creates degrees of burglary based on the seriousness of crime; creates degrees of forgery based on seriousness of offense; creates levels of theft based on amount stolen; revises penalties for simple drug possession, according to the report.

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