Georgia is getting closer to finalizing the proposals for a complete rewrite of the state Juvenile Court Code. This long process—which has taken close to eight years now—has been overseen by both policymakers and stakeholders. The legislation, House Bill 641, both reorganizes and makes substantive changes to the juvenile code.

Of interest, the bill ensures that juveniles will not reside in an adult correction facility before the age of majority, encourages and authorizes conferences and non-judicial informal agreements to resolve certain juvenile matters, increases access for juveniles to attorneys and guardians ad litem, requires intake analyses to determine public safety risk and custodial benefits, and alters competency determinations for juveniles, among other provisions. It also ensures that complaints against juveniles note whether that juvenile is charged with a “designated felony,” a more dangerous and serious category of felony.

Stakeholders recently gathered to discuss the legislation, and a key component of that discussion was the funding for the bill. This reflects a focus on the costs and efficiency of the juvenile justice system—a positive step for the people of Georgia. Now it is up to lawmakers to make sure that the final version of the bill maximizes justice outcomes for juveniles while minimizing the costs to taxpayers.