In 2013, the Georgia Legislature passed a series of laws aimed at reforming the juvenile justice system. The reforms have proven successful, but in large part have been underfunded. A recent budget proposal made by Governor Deal would allow for immediate funding and the expansion of juvenile diversion programs that could make all the difference in eliminating the school-to-prison pipeline, so if your child was arrested for a minor offense, it is critical to speak with an experienced juvenile defense attorney who can ensure that he or she has access to the best community-based justice reform initiatives available.

Recent Reforms and Increased Funding

In addition to the new laws aimed at reducing the number of juvenile status offenders who are placed in the juvenile detention facilities, the Georgia Legislature also launched the Juvenile Justice Incentive Grants program, which was created to fund the establishment of community youth programs. A recent budget proposal made by the governor would help further fund these efforts by closing one long-term youth detention facility and allocating an additional $5 million to the formation of community-based programs rooted in individual, family, and group therapy. According to the terms of the budget proposal, around $2.7 million would be made available to fund programs aimed at helping minors move from secure detention facilities to residential facilities.

Community-Based Juvenile Justice Programs

The newly created juvenile justice programs will largely be modeled off of one Georgia initiative, known as the Second Chance Court program, which attempts to keep teens out of long-term lockups by allowing juvenile offenders to avoid detainment if they and their parents agree to adhere to certain requirements, including:

  • The mandatory use of GPS monitoring;
  • Regular school attendance;
  • Participation in drug treatment programs or family therapy;
  • Participation in cognitive behavioral restructuring therapy;
  • Observance of a curfew;
  • Participation in community-based youth activities, including sporting events;
  • Attendance at meetings with court officials, including judges;
  • Monitoring by probation officers; and
  • Routine substance abuse screening.

Non-compliance may result in heavy penalties, including incarceration in a juvenile detention facility.

Programs of this nature have proven wildly successful. For instance, the counties where these types of programs were made available experienced a 62% decline in the number of minors sent to juvenile detention. As a result of this success, counties across the state have implemented similar programs and it is hoped that the additional funding will allow for the further growth of these types of reforms.

Contact an Experienced Juvenile Defense Attorney Today

The new funding allocated by the Governor creates a unique opportunity for policymakers to focus on a more community-based approach to juvenile justice reform, which can give youth offenders the one-on-one attention and support that they need. If you have questions or concerns about alternatives to juvenile detention facilities, it is important to obtain the advice of an experienced juvenile defense attorney who can help protect your child’s interests. Please contact Ford Law by calling 404-373-9881 to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced juvenile defense attorney who can help explain your legal options.

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