ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--According to a comprehensive summary released in late February,"Report of the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform 2015," the state of Georgia saw dramatic declines in out-of-home placements of juvenile offenders during the first nine months of a statewide initiative led by Governor Nathan Deal. According the report, “Among the counties participating in phase one...felony commitments and placements in short-term programs dropped more than 62 percent statewide over a nine-month period ending in October 2014 – dramatically exceeding the 15 percent goal set when the grants were awarded."
EBA has been a committed partner in the Governor’s initiative since the passage of HB 242 in 2013, which called for a new juvenile justice mandate, "to preserve and strengthen family relationships in order to allow each child to live in safety and security."
"Governor Nathan Deal and a bi-partisan, unanimous legislature launched a statewide juvenile justice reform effort in 2013, leading to a staggering overall 62 percent reduction in secure placement of high-risk offenders in less than one year," said Clay Yeager, senior consultant for EBA. "Georgia officials are to be applauded for their foresight in meeting a problem head-on by using data analysis and supporting only those programs meeting the highest standards of evidence. Georgia’s leadership is an example for other jurisdictions nationwide."
In 2013, the Reform Council had produced a set of policy recommendations aimed at limiting expensive out-of-home facilities to serious, higher-risk youth and managing youth with more minor offenses through evidence-based supervision and programs. In that earlier report, the Council outlined a juvenile justice system that featured high costs and relatively poor results, heavily reliant on out-of-home facilities and lacking in community-based alternatives in many areas. Georgia’s secure residential facilities for juveniles averaged $90,000 per youth per year, and nearly 25 percent of the juveniles in out-of-home placements were adjudicated for low-level offenses, including misdemeanors or status offenses. For youth released from Georgia’s secure commitments, the recidivism rate was a disturbing 65 percent.
In 2013, the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) and the Governor’s Office for Children and Families (GOCF) made $7 million in resources available for selected counties to implement a menu of evidence-based interventions that met high standards of scientific testing. During the first year, the 20 Georgia counties with the highest number of commitments were awarded funds to implement high-quality, well-designed evidence-based programs. Using 2012 data as the baseline, a first year reduction target of 15 percent was established. Surprisingly, the participating counties attained an overall reduction of 62 percent during the first nine months.
EBA, a national technical assistance and project management team based in Washington, DC, partners with state and local agencies to identify and implement evidence-based programs for at-risk youth. EBA managed the implementation of programs in 10 of the grant-funded counties during the first year of the Georgia initiative. All counties working with EBA saw declines in placement rates; overall, commitments in EBA counties declined a dramatic 65.3 percent during the initial nine-month grant period, while the remaining counties achieved a notable 51 percent reduction.