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Governor Signs Third Leg of Criminal Justice Reform

Deal: Bill makes it easier for employers to hire ex-offenders, reducing recidivism and creating jobs.

Georgia State Capitol. Credit: Patch file
Georgia State Capitol. Credit: Patch file
Patch Staff Report

At Antioch Baptist Church in Gainesville on Sunday, Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Senate Bill 365, legislation that will help rehabilitated offenders successfully re-enter society by removing barriers to employment, housing and education.

“Building on the success of the landmark criminal justice reforms passed in the 2012 and 2013 sessions, the General Assembly and the Criminal Justice Reform Council worked with me to revolutionize Georgia’s criminal justice standards and strengthen our state’s economy,” Deal said in a press release. “The incentives and re-entry programs included in this legislation are cost-effective strategies that will increase the number of former offenders returning to the workforce and supporting their families.

The new law requires the Board of Corrections to create and implement a program and treatment completion certificate to assist adult offenders with re-entry into society upon release from prison. In order to earn the certificate, the offender must complete any required treatment plan and vocational training while in prison and comply with any re-entry plan while on probation or parole. This bill states that employers demonstrate due care when hiring ex-offenders that earn this certificate, providing them a certain level of immunity from negligent hiring liability that often drives hiring decisions.

This legislation also provides judges with the discretion to deviate from the automatic license suspension for minor drug offenses. This discretion is only available when the drug offense was not directly related to the operation of the motor vehicle and is contingent upon the offender’s completion of any and all treatment programs.

“It is counterproductive to devote the state’s resources to rehabilitating nonviolent offenders and then deny them the ability to independently travel to their place of work,” Deal said in the release. “This legislation strikes the proper balance between opportunity and accountability. Along with the previous two phases of my criminal justice reform, this law will pay dividends to taxpayers and improve the quality of life for all Georgians.”

Brian April 14, 2014 at 07:31 PM
Good, if we can't afford to keep them in prison we may as well get them back into the workforce and contributing to taxes and society. We just need to be careful where they work :-)
Brian April 14, 2014 at 07:37 PM
They should provide tax benefits for companies hiring convicts.
Richard "the Equalizer" Pellegrino April 15, 2014 at 12:50 AM
I agree Brian but I dislike the label or term "convict".
Octo Slash April 15, 2014 at 08:34 AM
Okay...how about 'ex-convict'? Or 'temporarily wayward downtrodden societal misfortunate'? Is that sweet and harmless enough? For god's sake let's remove any and all stigma from those convicted of felonious crimes against the innocent. We wouldn't want them to be uncomfortable at work.
Richard "the Equalizer" Pellegrino April 15, 2014 at 12:04 PM
I get your point Octo but still don't like labels as such....who is to say that someone convicted of a felony but doesn't do any time in prison is not a "convict" so it sets up an artificial class of people that somehow someone who does time is worse or has committed a worse crime than someone who doesn't (because we know there is great inequity in the justice system when it comes to race and class). I prefer not to judge folk once they have already been judged and done their time or punishment by attaching a label.

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