As a Georgia criminal defense attorney, I see a lot of cases where people have been wrongly accused of crimes or who have been convicted of minor drug offenses. Believing all of those who have been charged with a crime, even if it’s a felony, have Constitutional right to a vigorous defense–one of the reasons I went into criminal law practice in the first place–the attorneys at The Boddie Law Group often represent such clients.
But, anytime you are arrested for a crime, whether you committed it or not, it’s a life-changing experience. And, what if you have been charged with a crime you didn’t commit and are later found not guilty or your case is dismissed? What if you’re a first offender in a minor crime and facing harsh sentencing? Right now, the system doesn’t allow flexibility for defendants in such cases so justice reform is needed in Georgia to help them.
After all, America is the land of second chances where the justice system should be fair. But, under current law in Georgia, these individuals either face harsh sentencing inconsistent with their crime or offender status (a problem that is costing taxpayers millions annually) or don’t get that second chance if they’ve been exonerated.
While in other states, those in these two situations can have their records expunged or be placed in alternative programs rather than in prison, under Georgia’s current justice system, they find it difficult to integrate back into and become contributing members of society. Instead, they face a life that is permanently damaged by the current criminal code, which also raises the chance that they will re-offend. And, the currently system is costly; if the state does nothing, its prison population will rise to nearly 60,000 by 2016, with an additional cost of $264 million, further adding to Georgia’s budgetary woes.
But, HB 1176, the Criminal Justice Reformed Bill, which is supported by a broad coalition of government officials, law enforcement professionals, pastors and business leaders as well as The Boddie Law Group and other attorneys, would remedy some of the flaws in the current, highly punitive system. According to Justice Reform in Georgia, an initiative of Prison Fellowship, this justice reform bill would:
- Make sure judges have effective community-based programs available to hold low-level offenders accountable without sending them to prison. Increase the number of probation and parole officers to help keep offenders on the straight and narrow. Offer incentives to local jurisdictions that keep the crime rate down by implementing these new policies.
- Reform the sentencing structure to focus expensive prison beds on violent, career criminals, and punish lower-level, non-violent offenders with mandatory supervision in their home community.
- Use the savings from lowering the prison population to expand drug courts, veterans’ courts and mental health courts, which provide access to programs and treatment geared to help individual offenders turn their lives around.
And, when asked about HB1176, State Representative Dar’shun Kendrick, a small business attorney at Kendrick Law Practice in Lithonia, GA who is running for re-election in State House District 93, “The most important thing about the bill is it offers people who are charged with a crime they didn’t commit and found not guilty, the option to petition to have their record expunged and apply for employment without that charge showing up in background searches.”
Governor Deal also supports the legislation, which passed both the state house and senate, telling Justice Reform in Georgia, “I firmly believe this is a better way to govern our criminal justice system. It’s win-win: saving lives and saving money. It’s a great change for Georgia.”
Therefore, we eagerly await the Governor’s signature on this important justice reform bill that would make it law in Georgia.
Please call The Boddie Law Group, LLC at 404-287-2393 if you have any questions about your criminal defense in Georgia.
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