March 6, 2012

Georgia governor calls for more drug court funding

On the heels of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announcing his one-year goal of implementing a drug treatment plan for the state Department of Corrections, this week the state of Georgia is also continuing down the path for more treatment for non-violent offenders through its drug court program.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported March 4 that Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is proposing for this year’s budget to quintuple the state’s current drug court funding to $10 million.

Right now there are 101 drug courts — or “accountability courts” as part of a larger program — in Georgia. In most of the court systems, offenders are required to work, stay sober and get treatment.

A defendant’s time in an accountability court can be one year or more.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), the state of Georgia legal system has typically dealt with crime in one way — locking people up. But this catch-all method has led to a $1 billion annual corrections budget that grows every year, and there is also a high recidivism rate in those that leave prison, meaning they continue to commit illegal or criminal acts even after they are released from prison. Minor offenders who entered prison are also found to leave as more major offenders after their time in the system.

A 2010 survey showed the retention rate for those who entered Georgia’s drug courts was 77.6 percent, the Administrative Office of the Courts told the AJC.

To read the full Atlanta Journal-Constitution article on Georgia’s accountability courts, click here.


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