This legislation is an attempt to reduce the prison population by implementing sweeping changes to Georgia's criminal justice system. The proposed changes will result in more cases handled at the local level and will impact local jails.
The bill amends the drug court and mental health court statute to facilitate the creation a statewide system of accountability courts for drug offenders and offenders with mental health issues. Funding was added to the FY 2012 budget to assist local governments in the implementation of new accountability courts and for existing programs.
The bill reduces prison terms for nonviolent offenses, and raises the threshold on a number of felony offenses, which will result in an increase in the county courts caseloads. There is also a revision of the punishment guidelines for a number of crimes, including burglary, shoplifting, forgery and the sale or use of marijuana. Fine amounts were increased to generate additional support for these caseloads at the local level.
Expands the number of offenses to which the Drug Abuse, Treatment and Education (DATE) Fund surcharge attach. The surcharge will now be on an expanded list of felony drug offenses, misdemeanor offenses including DUI and underage alcohol possession. This surcharge will attach to cases at all levels of court, including municipal courts, and must be remitted to county governing authority for the DATE fund, these revenues can be used to operate DUI and Drug courts.
Maximum fees for pretrial diversion programs have been increased as well as fine amounts for various misdemeanor offenses.
for a detail summary of the provisions of the bill.