05/03/2012 - Calling it a historic day for Georgia, an emotional Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday signed into law major changes to how the state punishes non-violent criminals.
Deal signed House Bill 1176 at the Capitol surrounded by lawmakers and members of his Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform, which recommended many of the new law's provisions.
The sentencing reform package is projected to save taxpayers $264 million in prison spending over the next five years. The legislation, which takes effect July 1, establishes alternatives to incarceration for low-level, non-violent drug and property offenders and reserves expensive prison beds for the most dangerous offenders.
The special council, which worked with the Pew Center on the States in developing its new policies, will continue its work, Deal said.
"This comprehensive new law reflects a bipartisan consensus about how to combat nonviolent crime," Adam Gelb, director of Pew's Public Safety Performance Project, said. It will "make communities safer and curb runaway corrections spending."
Read the full article, Deal Signs Bill Revamping Many Criminal Sentences, on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Web site.