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Voices Applauds Next Step in Juvenile Justice Reform

Yesterday, Representative Wendell Willard introduced juvenile justice reform legislation as HB 242. The 244-page bill encompasses recent recommendations made by the Governor’s Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform and, should it pass, would serve thousands of children and families across the state and help drive long-term social and economic change in Georgia.

The legislation contains broad changes and further substantially revises, supersedes, and modernizes provisions of the current Juvenile Code of Georgia.

“HB 242 is a significant milestone for Georgia’s children,” Pat Willis, Executive Director of Voices for Georgia’s Children, said. “Although we are still reviewing the 244 pages of the bill, the depth of study and the inclusive process that preceded the legislation suggest this bill will ensure that each and every child in Georgia will have the best opportunity to be on a responsible path to adulthood.”

Willis also expressed appreciation for the officials that promoted the reforms. 

“We are very grateful for the continuing leadership of Representative Willard in shaping the legislation and to the Governor and the Criminal Justice Reform Council for their thorough review and recommendations,” she said.

Voices has worked for several years its JUSTGeorgia partners, Georgia Appleseed and the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory University, to promote modernization of the Juvenile Code as essential to juvenile justice reform.
Willis noted the breadth of support that has been building for juvenile justice reform, citing Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein’s Feb. 7 State of the Judiciary address.

“We as Georgians – and as a nation – stand at a crossroads in juvenile justice history,” said Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein in her State of the Judiciary Thursday. “We have learned, just as we did with adult criminal justice, that cracking down on juvenile crime is not enough. We must also be smart about juvenile crime and take action to reduce it.”

“When government officials and members of the community work together on common goals for children and the public interest, real change is bound to happen,” Willis said.

For a look at the full 244 pages of the bill, click here.

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