A centerpiece achievement of Nathan Deal’s two terms as Georgia governor has been his focus on reforming the state’s criminal justice sentencing, probation and rehabilitation systems. Most significant changes proposed by political officials are called “reforms”; by all accounts, this really is one.
Building a juvenile justice system that works is like a jigsaw puzzle, it takes time to put it together.
Most folks begin a puzzle putting together the frame using the corner and edge pieces. The creation of juvenile courts beginning in 1899 followed by the In re Gault decision in 1966 are the corner and edge pieces of our juvenile justice puzzle. Together these events created the framework for us to find the remaining pieces.
Please raise your hand if you are familiar with something called the JJDPA. Okay, you, sir, in the back with the red shirt, you can put your hand down and go get a coffee. All the rest of you who didn’t raise your hands, please read on.
The best legacy of Gov. Nathan Deal’s two terms in office might well be the series of sweeping reforms in criminal justice that the General Assembly has enacted on his watch and under his leadership.
Melissa Carter is the Executive Director of the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory University, which is a lead partner of the JUSTGeorgia Coalition. She is also a member of the Child Welfare Reform Council and was appointed last year by the Governor to the Juvenile Justice State Advisory Group.