ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The state is making some changes when it comes to juvenile offenders, a new law will be put in place to reduce the number of minors in lockup and help save the state thousands of dollars.
Starting this year, only those who commit serious offenses will be held in custody and as for those accountable for minor offenses, they will be placed in community based programs instead. According to the Department of Juvenile Justice website, it costs over 90,000 dollars to hold an offender compared to 3,000 if placed in the alternative program.
DJJ commissioner Avery Niles says "It's a win to get help for youth who are neglected or abused...troubled teens who need community outreach, not detention..and for Georgia taxpayers who are entitled to protection from felony youth offenders but who shouldn't have to shoulder high security system costs for low-risk juvenile offenses." For attorney, James Finkelstein, he feels its about getting to the root of the problem and building a strong foundation for youth.
"You see it starts out with things like fighting in school, destruction of property and so forth. And then it kind of escalates up to things like burglary, car theft and what not. They go far beyond just dealing with an individual offender, you have to deal with the community around him or her," Finkelstein said.
The new law says there will have to be three assessment tools DJJ would have to go through, first they must figure out if the minor should be detained pending a court hearing, then determine their risk level to hand over best sentence and finally come up with an individual plan to reduce the chance of that minor of repeating an offense.
Supporters predict it will save the state around $28 million during the next two years.