Policy and election-year politics mixed into new Georgia laws

Policy and election-year politics mixed into new Georgia laws

Georgia news, in the news, current events, Georgia happenings, GA happenings

Policy and election-year politics mixed into new Georgia laws

Flush with cash and facing an election year, Georgia lawmakers prioritized bills that cut taxes, stoke political emotions and touch voters’ lives in some way.

Legislators left the Capitol early Friday morning after making their mark on the state over the past three months, with the Republican majority pushing both practical spending bills and sparking debates over partisan issues including immigration and transgender people.

“I think they were looking for things to show their constituents that they’re doing something,” said Buzz Brockway, a former Republican state representative who now works at the Georgia Center for Opportunity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing poverty. “I would call it a ‘medium session.’ Some things got done that are important and move the ball forward, but nobody got everything they wanted.”

Read the full article in The Herald

Read the full article in Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

 

Policy and election-year politics mixed into new Georgia laws

Shackled by Freedom: How Workplace Licensing Holds Back Ex-Convicts

Georgia news, in the news, current events, Georgia happenings, GA happenings

Shackled by Freedom: How Workplace Licensing Holds Back Ex-Convicts

After years of drug abuse and crime, Rudolph H. Carey III began to get his life back on track in 2007 when he checked himself into rehab and eventually drew on his experience to become a substance abuse counselor in Virginia.

Then it was all taken away from him. After his company was taken over, his new employer fired him in 2018 due to his 2004 conviction for assaulting an officer while trying to run away from a traffic stop. State law prohibits former offenders like him from working as substance abuse counselors.

Joshua Crawford, Director of Criminal Justice Initiatives for the Georgia Center for Opportunity, acknowledged that the formerly incarcerated are often an unsympathetic group. But he said growing evidence shows that occupational licensing laws fail to improve public safety and sometimes even make communities less safe and less prosperous. “It’s not about benefiting that person as much as leveling the playing field and the benefits to public safety and more productive members of society,” he said. 

Read the full article in Real Clear Investigations 

Read the full article in The Epoch Times 

 

Policy and election-year politics mixed into new Georgia laws

Is the tide turning on Larry Krasner?

Georgia news, in the news, current events, Georgia happenings, GA happenings

Is the tide turning on Larry Krasner?

Hate to say I told you so, but real is real. Back in 2018, three months into Larry Krasner’s revolution in ultra-lenient prosecution, I wrote these prophetic words:

Ive written before that many of Krasners reforms — as with those of many of the other Soros DAs — are long overdue. Cash bail does criminalize poverty; mass incarceration, thanks to an ill-conceived war on drugs, has decimated communities of color; the death penalty is disproportionately applied based on race and class. All true. But one has to wonder if Krasner — even more than the other Soros-funded reformers — has over-corrected, and laid the groundwork for an existential assault on law enforcement from within that, by extension, could amount to a jihad on public safety itself.

The piece, like others that have followed through his tenure, diagnosed what was already apparent: Krasner’s inexperience and incompetence as a manager, his unwillingness to work with others, and his tone deafness (like when he showed up for his first meeting with the then-Council president with a documentary camera crew in tow) — all of it jeopardized even then the most righteous aspects of his cause. You know what happened next. His “best and brightest” ADA recruits came and promptly fled in droves, fed up with the mismanagement and ideology. They wanted to be reformers, yes, but most didn’t sign up to be refuseniks when it came to, say, actually prosecuting gun crimes.

“Consider how Philadelphia has fared in the years since progressive prosecutor Larry Krasner was elected in 2017,” Penn Law’s Paul Robinson and Joshua Crawford, Director of Criminal Justice Initiatives at the Georgia Center for Opportunity wrote last year in Newsweek. “Krasner has filed the fewest cases in his city’s modern history and reduced sentencings by an astounding 70 percent. Meanwhile, homicides are skyrocketing.”

Safer Kentucky Act: Six Crime Reforms Included and How They Help

Safer Kentucky Act: Six Crime Reforms Included and How They Help

The Safer Kentucky Act focuses on lowering crime and fear in Louisville, as well as other vulnerable neighborhoods across Kentucky.

Safer Kentucky Act: Six Crime Reforms Included and How They Help

Key Points

  • The Safer Kentucky Act (House Bill 5) is a package of crime-related bills, including six GCO-recommended solutions for restoring community safety. 
  • The bill lowers crime by addressing gang-related violence, updating carjacking laws, facilitating successful reentry programs, and more. 
  • The Safer Kentucky Act is good news for impoverished communities and at-risk populations, which tend to bear the brunt of increasing violence. These public safety reforms will give communities hope and solutions to break cycles of violence and poverty and have better opportunities close to home.

Kentucky is home to one of the most challenging public safety environments in the country. Even so, the state has made positive changes, thanks to crime reduction policies that have increased police funding and established much-needed programs. Louisville, for example, finished 2023 with a 4% reduction in fatal shootings and an 8% reduction in nonfatal shootings. These were the lowest totals in both categories in four years. 

But more can be done to ensure Kentucky residents are free to move about their neighborhoods without fear of personal harm. New legislation called the Safer Kentucky Act (House Bill 5) includes six policy reforms, drawing from GCO’s public safety research, that will restore safety and better opportunities to Kentucky communities. 

What is the Safer Kentucky Act? 

The Safer Kentucky Act is an omnibus crime bill, which is a type of legislation that combines several proposed policy reforms into a single bill. In the case of the Safer Kentucky Act, all the individual provisions touch on some aspect of public safety. 

Proposed reforms cover everything from homelessness to repeat violent offenders. Among these reforms are a handful of changes directly focused on reducing crime and relieving communities of the fear and loss associated with increasing violence.

Higher violent crime rates rob communities of precious lives and lower the quality of life in the most vulnerable neighborhoods. 

Higher violent crime rates rob communities of precious lives and lower the quality of life in the most vulnerable neighborhoods. 

Six Ways the Safer Kentucky Act Addresses Crime

Establishes strategies to lower gang-related violence

Group Violence Intervention (GVI), also known as focused deterrence, is a gang violence reduction strategy, and when implemented properly, it can have substantial impact. 

  • GVI uses an approach known as “call-ins.” Call-ins bring in groups of active gang members to deliver simultaneous messages of enforcement, resources for gang members to better their lives, and community moral voices expressing the unacceptability of the violence.
  • Louisville, KY, has operated a GVI program for a few years, but an interpretation of state law prevents probationers and parolees in gangs from being compelled to attend call-ins. Despite GVI strategies existing across the country, Kentucky is the only state with this participation issue. House Bill 5 clarifies state law to allow this kind of program participation.

Updates state law to discourage carjackings

Kentucky has no state law specifically addressing carjacking. When someone commits a carjacking in Kentucky, they face one of two consequences. They may be transferred to federal court and charged with the federal crime of carjacking. Or they could be charged in state court with a combination of assault and robbery. 

  • The absence of a state carjacking law leads to insufficient punishment for too many carjackers. It also makes tracking and data collection around carjacking more difficult. 
  • The data that is available suggests carjackings have risen significantly since 2020.
  • Passing the Safer Kentucky Act would, for the first time, create a state-level carjacking statute that enables communities to appropriately deal with and discourage carjackings.

Improves parent and guardian involvement in juvenile proceedings 

Building on the parental accountability measures in House Bill 3 (passed in 2023), the Safer Kentucky Act contains a provision that would require one parent or guardian to attend proceedings involving their children or child in their custody. 

By requiring parents to at least be present at their children’s hearings, the idea is that they may be more involved and invested in the child’s success. While there are few good answers in this area, these parent-focused participatory measures can help make a difference on the margins.

Adds life in prison for repeat violent offenders

KRS 532 is Kentucky’s most narrow violent offender statute. It includes what most people would consider the worst of the worst offenses—murder, manslaughter, serious assaults, rapes, robbery, burglary, and so on. 

The Safer Kentucky Act establishes a new “three strikes law” for violations of KRS 532. Conviction of a third offense would result in life imprisonment. 

This measure would ensure that the most violent repeat offenders are appropriately punished. Several studies have found that these types of laws reduce crime, so this change will likely help Kentucky lower crime in the future.

Brings witness intimidation laws into the 21st century 

House Bill 5 would amend Kentucky’s current statute related to intimidating a participant in the legal process. It expands the statute to include harassing communications (as defined in KRS 525.080), making it easier to prosecute and punish anyone who uses electronic mediums like social media to attempt to intimidate and dissuade witnesses in criminal cases.

Makes sure re-entry works

Our criminal justice system has several purposes, but one of the most important is helping convicts rejoin civil society once they’ve completed their sentences. 

Kentucky operates several re-entry programs based on best practices around the country. But do these programs actually reduce re-arrest, re-convictions, and re-incarceration? Right now, we don’t know. 

The Safer Kentucky Act would require regular evaluations of re-entry programs—a practice that would ensure effective programs get the support they deserve. It would also reallocate funding away from programs that aren’t reducing recidivism and put it toward new, innovative approaches.

Who would the Safer Kentucky Act help? 

Low-Income Families and Communities

The effects of crime disproportionately concentrate in our poorest and most vulnerable communities, keeping them locked in cycles of violence, poverty, and despair. The Safer Kentucky Act is a key step to restoring community safety. When public safety thrives, neighborhoods become homes for the education options, work opportunities, and healthy relationships that lift people out of poverty. 

At-Risk Youth and Juvenile Offenders

We know that parental involvement makes a difference in how children’s lives turn out. The Safer Kentucky Act gives juvenile offenders the opportunity to benefit from their parents’ presence as they navigate the criminal justice system and paths for rehabilitation. 

Former Inmates 

Former prisoners who are re-entering society have the best chance for a fresh start when states invest in reentry programs that have a track record of success. The Safer Kentucky Act will improve the support that ex-offenders receive through the criminal justice system. Ultimately, this empowers them to build stable, meaningful, and independent lives after serving their sentences. 

Law Enforcement 

The Safer Kentucky Act would give local law enforcement better methods to deal with small populations who tend to be responsible for the majority of crime. The bill also improves the justice system’s ability to help non-violent offenders and ex-offenders get back on a healthy, stable path. 

Status of the Safer Kentucky Act

As of March 15, 2024, House Bill 5 has passed both the Kentucky House of Representatives and the Senate. The legislation will go back to the House for a concurrence vote on changes to the bill. The final step will be the governor’s signature to sign the bill into law. 

Policy and election-year politics mixed into new Georgia laws

How to ease the labor shortage by fixing the social safety net

Georgia news, in the news, current events, Georgia happenings, GA happenings

How to ease the labor shortage by fixing the social safety net

The United States is in the enviable position of having a labor force crunch: Too few workers chasing too many jobs. There is no shortage of speculation among economists about solutions to this labor shortfall. But one factor that could help, and is too often ignored, is the ways our nation’s current safety-net system prevents people from entering the labor market.

 

First, let’s consider the context we’re in. The U.S. unemployment rate has settled below 4 percent for over two years, the longest stretch since the 1960s. Even so, our labor force participation rate continues to lag, caused in part by an aging population, declining birth rates, and aftereffects of the pandemic.

 

In January 2000, the labor force participation rate was 67.3 percent. Today, it’s 62.8 percent. That might not sound like much on paper, but consider that it means 1.7 million Americans are still missing from the labor force compared to right before the pandemic alone. These are able-bodied, prime-age workers—defined as ages 25 to 54—and they are still on the economic sidelines.

 

What’s worse, the labor force participation rate is expected to decline even further to around 60.4 percent by 2032, according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Labor. On the flip side, consider that by 2023, 41 million Americans relied on food stamps to make ends meet and nearly 90 million Americans were enrolled in Medicaid.

 

These are the numbers and statistics, but they represent real human beings who are being left behind. One way to bring more individuals back into the labor market is by implementing badly needed reforms to our nation’s social safety net.