On May 2, Governor Deal announced that he signed the historic criminal justice reform legislation 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.
I’m proud to know that our state is taking this important step forward in protecting our communities the right way, and I’m even more proud to know the legislation’s chief sponsor, Chairman Rich Golick, calls Cobb County home. Both Governor Deal and Chairman Golick deserve our thanks for allowing this bill to be a top legislative priority.
A substantial portion of HB 1176 relates directly to the prosecution of drug related offenses. The illegal sale and use of prescription and non-prescription drugs has reached a crisis level in our community.
Far from being a victimless crime, drug abuse adversely affects not only the individual user, but the parents, children and close family members and friends of the abuser. Often the drug user lives in the dark shadow of an overwhelming addiction.
The criminal justice system must separate the prosecution of addicted users from the drug traffickers and illegal drug producers who are preying on these same individuals. A portion of the 1.2 billion dollars annually spent on drug abusers in our state prison system might be better spent on effective intervention programs designed to not only eliminate the addiction but create productive citizens who live and work in our community.
The District Attorney’s Office, drug rehabilitation programs and judiciary must effectively work toward this goal to stop drug casualties and change the paradigm of addiction in our community.
Clearly the focus on prosecution must be the drug traffickers and producers that disseminate these substances to the citizens in our community both young and old. By addressing the rehabilitation of the youthful abuser as well as aggressively prosecuting those who willfully prey on our community we can begin to put an end to what we call the war on drugs.
As District Attorney I will work to stop the illegal production of methamphetamine producers, close down prescription drug mills, and stop drug running through our county.
Spending $1.2 billion annually to imprison non-violent offenders alongside murderers and sexual predators does not effectively break the cycle of addiction, nor is it fiscally responsible.
As an example New York used an approach in which non-violent offenders were given options for intensive rehabilitation efforts that held them accountable for their drug use, but did not take needed prison beds away from more violent offenders.
The state saved $241 million in taxpayer dollars, and reduced criminal recidivism among these non-violent offenders by establishing alternative methods of accountability. Now is the time for Georgia to adapt these fiscally conservative alternatives which clearly create positive results.
As District Attorney, it is my responsibility to ensure our criminal justice system does not release violent criminals and sexual predators back into our community. By placing the priority of prosecution on the “seven deadly sins” and providing viable alternatives to those more minor offenders who take responsibility for their actions and can be effectively rehabilitated, we as a community can address crime in our community while still being fiscally responsible.
This approach effectively utilizes public safety officials, prosecutors and the judiciary to work together in our community to eradicate crime while efficiently using our limited tax dollars.
House Bill 1176 is a welcome development that helps us be more effective public servants, meaning Cobb County residents get the protection they deserve.
I’m proud to call Cobb County my home because of leaders like Chairman Golick. I plan to do everything in my power to ensure that you can feel proud and safe to continue calling Cobb County your home as well.