The Marriage Penalty: A Barrier to Relational Support and Better Opportunities for the Poor

The Marriage Penalty: A Barrier to Relational Support and Better Opportunities for the Poor

The marriage penalty is a government tax policy that increases the tax burden on low-income households trying to pursue better lives and economic mobility through marriage.

The Marriage Penalty: A Barrier to Relational Support and Better Opportunities for the Poor

Key Points

  • A lack of connection and supportive relationships, especially at home, is a driving factor of long-term poverty. Marriage is one type of relationship that research has shown to be a building block of stable lives and communities.

  • Communities in Georgia and beyond are struggling with a barrier called the marriage penalty—a government tax policy that forces couples to pay more in taxes as a result of increasing household income through marriage. 

  • The marriage penalty tax discourages those in poverty from improving their financial situation and forming strong support systems at home.

Strong relationships are a cornerstone of vibrant communities. Of the many types of relationships in day-to-day life, research shows that marriage is one of the most important for empowering individuals, regardless of race or circumstance, to avoid long-term poverty and find stability and opportunity. 

But communities in Georgia and beyond are struggling to reap the benefits of marriage—and a big reason is a government tax policy called the marriage penalty.  

Why does marriage matter for those in poverty?

We celebrate marriage because it provides people with relational connection and support. When we think about helping someone escape or avoid long-term poverty, we might assume that a person’s economic needs are most important to address. But that would be missing a critical piece of the puzzle. 

A lack of connection and supportive relationships, especially at home, is a driving factor of long-term poverty. 

Those in poverty often need this relationship and support system to a greater level, which is why we at GCO emphasize the benefits marriage offers for individuals, children, and communities. Higher marriage rates tend to go hand-in-hand less crime, better education outcomes, less child poverty, and more upward mobility

Of course, not every person will get married, but the impact that close, healthy relationships have on the stability of lives and communities cannot be understated.

The impact that close, healthy relationships have on the stability of lives and communities cannot be understated. In fact, it’s one of the biggest factors in helping people overcome long-term poverty.

The impact that close, healthy relationships have on the stability of lives and communities cannot be understated. In fact, it’s one of the biggest factors in helping people overcome long-term poverty.

Understanding the marriage penalty tax

A marriage penalty occurs when a couple faces higher taxes as a result of marrying and filing jointly. Higher taxes are linked to higher income, so it might seem like the marriage penalty is simply an inconvenience for households with high enough earnings to afford it. 

But the marriage penalty poses a significant problem for low-income households, as well. It creates a financial risk if one or both spouses are receiving government benefits and getting married would increase household income. That increase can trigger a sudden loss in benefits—even if households aren’t fully earning enough to offset the loss. This scenario holds particularly true for couples who earn a modest income—those in the working class or lower middle class earning around $28,000 to $55,000 a year.

Marriage penalties apply at the federal tax level, but there are 15 states that also have marriage penalties built into their state income tax brackets. Georgia is one of them.

Georgia is one of 15 states that have a marriage penalty built into the state income tax structure.

Marriage penalties stifle financial independence

The gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” has increased when it comes to marriage. While the wealthy and upper middle class continue to marry at high rates, marriage is far less common among the poor, working class, and lower middle class.

According to data from the 2015 American Community Survey, 56% of adults between the ages of 18 and 55 are married who fall into the upper middle class. That contrasts with 39% of those in the working class and just 26% of those who are poor.

There are many reasons why marriage rates have declined for these groups, but in the realm of government policy, the marriage penalty is one of the most discouraging factors. 

For example, a single mom with a few kids would need to find a spouse who earns a significantly higher salary than her in order to overcome the loss of benefits if they chose to get married. In some cases, the penalty is so extreme that she would need to marry someone earning more than $40 per hour—or more than $80,000 annually if full time—to recover from the loss in safety-net benefits like food stamps, refundable tax credits, and medical assistance.

Through a focus group organized by GCO and the Institute for Family Studies, we met Tiana, who experienced this situation firsthand. “I chose not to marry,” she told us. “For one, I get a lot of assistance. I have a disabled child. So being if I did marry or put any other type of income in, I would not qualify for anything.”

More than one-in-10 unmarried Americans whose income falls below the median reported they were not married for fear of losing “access to government benefits,” according to a recent IFS/Wheatley Institution survey. The research indicates that penalties can amount to between 10% and 30% of household income for many families in the poor and working-class income brackets.

Marriage penalties discourage strong support systems at home

The bottom line is that the marriage penalty harms many of the poor who are working and attempting to make a better life for themselves and their families. It does so by discouraging the very thing we know impacts poverty the most—family and relationship formation. 

Fewer marriages is bad news for children: Social science research shows, time and again, that children do best in a stable, married two-parent household.

Married households have the lowest poverty rate of any household configuration at just 6.3% in 2020. Meanwhile, one-in-three children live in a single-parent household today, 80% of those households being headed by a single mom. And the unfortunate reality is that single-mom households are the most likely to be in poverty of any family structure in the U.S.—a staggering 34% in 2020, accounting for over 5.1 million children in poverty.

Solutions to eliminate the marriage penalty tax

The ultimate solution to eliminate marriage penalties is federal action to reform how government benefits are structured. However, states can take the lead as they streamline eligibility standards and form individual action plans.

That’s why GCO is hard at work at in Georgia and across the country to educate lawmakers on the perils of benefits cliffs and possible fixes. 

At the end of the day, however, government reforms are only part of the solution. The institutions of marriage and family are suffering not only from government obstacles, but also societal challenges. Civil society organizations—such as churches, nonprofits, and schools—are critical avenues for local support and examples of how to cultivate healthy family relationships. While this is not something that government programs can accomplish, classes and curriculum may be incorporated into case management.

Americans deserve a strong safety net that serves as a bridge out of poverty. But no government program or policy should be a barrier to the relationships needed in the places where lives are formed and transformed— in homes and communities.

Georgia’s 2024 Legislative Session: An Agenda to Lift Up Vulnerable Communities

Georgia’s 2024 Legislative Session: An Agenda to Lift Up Vulnerable Communities

Georgia state legislature, 2024 session

Georgia’s 2024 Legislative Session: An Agenda to Lift Up Vulnerable Communities

Key Points

  • As Georgia lawmakers convene for the 2024 legislative session, multiple bills are on the table that could break down barriers in poor and disadvantaged communities.

  • A key issue to track: education opportunity. Lawmakers have a chance to enact several options, including Georgia Promise Scholarships (SB 233), expansion of the Tax Credit Scholarship Program, and public school transfers. 

  • Other bills to know include job licensing reforms to expand work opportunities for people with criminal records (SB 157) and a reform to better connect welfare and work support in Georgia (HB 738)

Georgia lawmakers are back in Atlanta for what could prove to be the most impactful legislative session in years. Georgia’s legislature is considering multiple bills that could break down barriers facing poor and disadvantaged communities.

The timetable is short. The session will end by March 28, so time is of the essence if our elected officials are going to improve the quality of life for the people they serve. Below is a list of a few bills our team is watching and working on to lift up vulnerable and low-income communities across Georgia. 

Our hope for the 2024 session: Give more Georgians better pathways out of poverty and into opportunity 

“During the 2024 session, we hope to see tremendous progress on expanding school choice through passage of Senate Bill 233, the Promise Scholarship bill,” said GCO’s vice president of public policy, Buzz Brockway. “In addition, we hope to see an increase in the cap on Georgia’s Tax Credit Scholarship program, which would also expand private school options parents have.”

“We also will be working on seeing SB 157 passed into law,” Brockway added. “This bill will create a pathway for people with a criminal record many years in the past to obtain an occupational license, opening up opportunities for many people to earn a living and support their family. Finally, we hope to make progress on reforming how Georgia delivers workforce and safety-net programs, placing people on a pathway toward self-sufficiency.”

Education: Expanding schooling options to help families find the best fit for their kids 

  • SB 233, Promise Scholarships: Would make $6,500 per student available for parents to direct toward the best educational opportunities for their children. The funds would be available for use for private school tuition and public school alternatives, such as homeschooling. The scholarships would only be available to students enrolled in the lower 25% of schools in Georgia, amounting to around 400,000 students. Status: The Georgia Senate passed the bill in 2023 but it fell short in the House by a 85-89 margin. However, it is eligible for reconsideration this session. In his recent State of the State address, Gov. Brian Kemp gave full-throated support to getting Promise Scholarships passed this year. To learn more, view our primer on Promise Scholarships.
  • SB 147, public school district transfers: Would allow students to transfer to a different public school within their district or a different district. This would provide much needed support for the majority of families who chose to continue sending their students to public schools in Georgia. Status: The Senate tabled this bill in 2023 but it is eligible for consideration this year.
  • HB 54 and HB 101, Tax Credit Scholarship cap increase: Would raise the cap on the Tax Credit Scholarship from $120 million to $130 million. Through this program, businesses and individuals can donate toward private school scholarships for K-12 students enrolled in public schools. In return, they receive a dollar-for-dollar state income tax credit. In 2022, lawmakers raised the cap from $100 million to $120 million, but demand continues to increase, making another jump necessary. Status: The measures weren’t considered in 2023 but they are eligible for reconsideration this year.
  • HB 318, improve charter school laws: This measure would reestablish the Office of Charter School Compliance under the State Charter Schools Commission. Currently, two entities oversee charter schools in Georgia: The State Charter School Commission oversees state authorized charter schools, while the Georgia Department of Education oversees charters authorized by local boards of education. This creates confusion and differences in application of laws and rules governing charter school laws. HB 318 would bring oversight of all charters under one roof, providing more resources and uniformed application of laws and rules regarding charters. Status: Both chambers passed this bill in 2023 but the Senate amended it and the House did not reconsider the changes. The bill is eligible to be considered this year.

Safety-net reform: Connecting our welfare system to work support

  • One Door task force bill in Georgia, HB 738: Our nation’s welfare system is a fragmented hodgepodge of programs. The dozens of programs that make up the system have different and, at times, competing goals, inconsistent rules, and overlapping groups of recipients. At the same time, there is often a disconnect between safety-net programs and welfare-to-work initiatives. The end result is that people stay mired in generational poverty rather than receiving a helping hand to live a better life. In this environment, the GCO team is on the vanguard of educating about safety-net reform. A key way we are doing so in Georgia is by pushing forward this legislation to create a One Door task force in the state. The task force would study how to integrate the safety net with workforce development, in line with the successful One Door approach in Utah. Other states, including West Virginia and Louisiana, are weighing similar proposals. So why not here in Georgia? Status: The bill was introduced in the House in 2023 and is now moving through committee this year.

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Occupational licensing and public safety: Increasing personal safety and job opportunities in local communities 

  • Senate Bill 157, appeals process for justice involved individuals: Would create a preclearance process in licensing of individuals with criminal records who make an application to or are investigated by certain licensing boards and commissions. Often, returning citizens from the criminal justice system face huge barriers in finding work, and we know that attachment to work is a significant determinant of an individual not ending up back behind prison walls. Status: This measure was added to the House Rules calendar last year but didn’t receive any attention.

  • House Bill 212, Niche-Beauty Services Opportunity Act: Would offer barbers and cosmetologists the opportunity to provide services like blow-dry styling, braiding, threading, and the application of cosmetics without requiring licensure by the State Board of Cosmetology and Barbers. Occupational licensing is needed in some industries and job categories due to public health and safety concerns, but the laws on the books today in many cases are an unnecessary roadblock to employment for workers. Status: The House tabled the bill last session but it is eligible for consideration this year.

  • House Bill 334: Expungement: Would revise Georgia’s requirement that criminal history records be disclosed in certain situations. Known as expungement, this is an important step for individuals who have served their time and need to reintegrate into the workforce. Status: The bill was amended onto Senate Bill 157 but never came to a vote.

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2024: A Year of Unique Opportunities to Change Lives and Help Our Neighbors

2024: A Year of Unique Opportunities to Change Lives and Help Our Neighbors

Safety-net reform discussion in progress Georgia Promise Scholarship advocates Raising Highly Capable Kids program session Collaborative community safety planning Economic empowerment through BETTER WORK Educational opportunity supporters in action Community leaders addressing employment barriers Policy reform meeting on public safety Family stability and well-being empowerment Networking for local job opportunities

2024: A Year of Unique Opportunities to Change Lives and Help Our Neighbors

Key Points

  • Building off our success in 2023, the new year presents unique opportunities to build better lives for our neighbors through the power of work, education, family, and safer communities.

  • Our goal is for 2024 to be the year that safety-net reform takes hold in states across the country, while educational freedom becomes a reality at home here in Georgia as Promise Scholarships finally become a reality.
  • We hope this year will also bring safer communities in big and small cities alike through key public safety reforms.

One word that often comes to mind at the beginning of a new year is “hope.” As 2024 dawns, the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) is working hard to help everyone — especially the poor and disadvantaged — experience the wonder of hope by envisioning a better future for themselves and their loved ones. They can live better. They can become better.

Time and time again, government has proven that it can’t help people escape systemic, generational poverty. While the safety net is important, viewing it as a way of life saps people of their humanity and unfairly limits their potential. The poor deserve to know that poverty is escapable, not just survivable. And they deserve a helping hand to escape.

These solutions come from homes, neighborhoods, and local communities. This is where aspirations and dreams are born. No handout can substitute for this.

With this vision in mind, we will be dedicating 2024 to making positive changes in a few key areas that greatly affect the quality and trajectory of life for those who are most vulnerable. We built significant momentum last year on a range of issues, and that’s setting the stage for even bigger impact this year.

Here’s some of what’s on tap for us in the new year.

Safety-net reform will yield new opportunities

We’re taking on the safety-net system by advancing reforms in Congress, Georgia, and states across the country to create a more humane system that rewards work and creates a bridge to self-sufficiency.

We should look to Utah as an example of a state in the nation that is leading the way on safety-net reforms. The Beehive State’s One Door policy has integrated human services with workforce services and provides citizens with a single program to work through. Welfare becomes work support, and people have a clear path to get the help they need while receiving education, training, and other support to find employment.

This year, working with our Alliance for Opportunity partnership as a platform, we are advancing federal legislation to allow all states to adopt the One Door model—something that federal law currently prohibits. In Georgia, we are working with state policymakers to create a One Door task force so that our state is prepared to implement more holistic safety-net policies, especially when federal law is no longer a barrier. 

On a similar front, we are working to educate lawmakers and the public on the problem of benefits cliffs. Put simply, benefits cliffs are when an individual, family, or household loses more in net income and benefits from governmental assistance programs than it gains from additional earnings. This net loss is a perverse incentive that undermines the natural desire to earn more income. Thanks to GCO’s original research, we are crafting program-specific solutions to reduce benefits cliffs in food stamps/SNAP and childcare assistance. 

These solutions will build off the momentum created in states like Missouri, which became the first last year to address public assistance provisions, breaking ground in reforming safety-net benefits.

Safety-net programs have a role in helping the most vulnerable in our society. Ultimately, reforms are not about making government more efficient. They are about ensuring safety-net progams serve as a bridge, not a barrier, to better opportunities and futures.


Expanding educational opportunity will benefit all students

Could 2024 be the year that—finally—education opportunity is extended to all of Georgia’s students, not just a privileged few?

Our hope is the answer is yes. We’re fighting to give every child in Georgia access to a quality education as the Georgia Promise Scholarship bill comes back for a final vote in the recently convened 2024 legislative session. Promise Scholarships would give parents $6,500 per student per year to find the right education option for their kids. The bill cleared the state Senate in 2023 but stalled in the House. 

Promise Scholarships are the cornerstone of our education agenda in 2024, but they are not the only priority. We are also encouraging lawmakers to expand the ceiling on the tax-credit scholarship, to free up families to transfer students between public schools within districts and in separate districts entirely, and make key improvements to charter school laws.

It’s well past time Georgia caught up with the rapidly growing list of other forward-thinking states that are expanding educational opportunity to all.


Support for parents will strengthen families

This year is an exciting phase for our Raising Highly Capable Kids (RHCK) program, which we launched in 2023 to give communities a better resource for nurturing family stability and well-being.   

RHCK is a 13-week evidence-based parenting program designed to build stronger families by empowering parents with the confidence, tools, and skills they need to raise healthy, caring, and responsible children.

A driving factor of long-term poverty is a lack of connection and supportive relationships, especially at home. That’s why we are prioritizing RHCK. At its heart is a curriculum that teaches the building blocks of healthy child development. In 2024, we’re working with partners and schools to expand RHCK. We believe the program will be a powerful way to give parents, caregivers, and educators tools and support to improve kids’ academic achievement, relationships, and overall success in life.

In 2024, the Georgia Center for Opportunity spearheads transformative initiatives, ranging from safety-net reforms and educational advancements to family support and community safety, all geared towards breaking the cycle of poverty and fostering a brighter, more empowered future for individuals and families.

In 2024, the Georgia Center for Opportunity spearheads transformative initiatives, ranging from safety-net reforms and educational advancements to family support and community safety, all geared towards breaking the cycle of poverty and fostering a brighter, more empowered future for individuals and families.

Key reforms will lead to safer communities

Community violence is another barrier to economic opportunity and healthy communities. Individuals and families can only truly thrive when neighborhoods and streets are safe. 

Through community collaborations with law enforcement, policymakers, and community leaders, we’ll help Georgia cities like Atlanta and Columbus reverse the tide of rising violence that has been damaging the family bonds, work opportunities, and educational pathways needed to break the cycle of poverty.

In Columbus, the Columbus Empowerment Network is leading to crime reductions, and we expect more local policy reforms to be adopted in 2024. While much of the focus on increasing crime rates centers on large metro areas, smaller cities like Columbus are still important and have seen concerning upticks in crime.

Our team is also active in moving forward policy in other states, including California, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Washington State, and Kentucky. In Louisville, for example, our work has helped shape an omnibus crime solution bill, which is expected to pass their state House this year. Louisville is important as a national example because it’s one of the most challenging public safety environments in the country, and solutions that work in this city have a good probability of working elsewhere—including Georgia. 


Breaking down employment barriers will transform generations

For those who struggle in poverty, an upwardly mobile job is often the first and best step toward self-sufficiency. That’s why we will continue to work through our BETTER WORK initiative in Gwinnett County and Columbus to build our local support systems to empower men and women to find work. We’ll also cultivate an environment of community safety where business and job opportunities abound.

In Columbus, a new focus for 2024 will be on partnering with local leaders and law enforcement to keep crime from driving away businesses and job opportunities. Meanwhile in Gwinnett, we’re laser focused on building out our network of employer partners, nonprofits, schools, and other community organizations to provide a bridge to a better life for the disadvantaged. And overall, we will continue our partnership with Jobs for Life as well as our mentor program.

Year in Review: A look back at how opportunity expanded in 2023

Year in Review: A look back at how opportunity expanded in 2023

new years resolution, 2024, year in review

Year in Review: A look back at how opportunity expanded in 2023

Key Points

  • Research has shown that safe communities, stable relationships, and meaningful education and work are essential to making poverty escapable. 
  • In 2023, we focused on helping communities develop solutions and tools to improve public safety, jobs, education and student achievement, and family formation. 
  • Through these accomplishments in 2023, more communities are being empowered to help people imagine and pursue better futures for themselves. 

It seems like everywhere you go these days, people are struggling. You can see it on street corners, in grocery stores, in news headlines, and—most heartbreaking of all—in the eyes of the people who have lost hope.

What they need is opportunity. And that’s exactly what the mission of the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) is built to deliver. As the year draws to a close, let’s take a moment to celebrate the good that has been done to alleviate poverty by removing barriers to opportunity and creating conditions that empower people to flourish and achieve their full potential.

The good news is that research consistently shows that people who experience personal safety, get a good education, find meaningful work, and have healthy, committed relationships only have a 2% chance of falling into poverty. And for those currently living in poverty, these opportunities are the way out to experience freedom and flourishing.

In 2023, GCO celebrated big wins in several key areas that foster community transformation: public safety, jobs, education, and family formation. Here are a few examples of how we’ve helped our neighbors live better and build thriving communities. 

Public safety

Thanks to our public safety research, we convened state policymakers and city leaders in Atlanta and Columbus to look at the causes of increasing violence, and provided a proven set of practical solutions for reducing crime—especially in low-income communities. At the national level, our public safety recommendations were well received in Dallas and Louisville, and an opinion piece we co-authored reached 28.7 million people through Newsweek. Soon thereafter, MSN and other media outlets amplified its reach to another 167.1 million Americans.

And given how important it is for people to live in safe communities where they feel comfortable walking around and living their lives, we also created a resource page on our website so that elected officials, law enforcement, and community leaders can easily find the best practices for addressing crime. 



On the jobs front, our BETTER WORK program continues to help communities build local employment support systems that bring employers, nonprofits, and community partners together to help more Georgians find local jobs. We’ve also joined forces with Lyft to help people get to work and focused on solutions to the benefits cliff challenges that keep many mired in government dependency. 


Safety-net reform

This year, GCO remained on the vanguard of educating lawmakers and the public about the need for reforming the safety net. Broadly, we worked to reveal the challenges posed by benefits cliffs, which discourage people from looking for meaningful work and gaining independence. Specifically, we expanded our impact to Utah, Arkansas, and Missouri, in addition to launching a redesigned benefits cliffs website and calculator that adds Utah and West Virginia to the models.

As we educate states and businesses about the benefits cliff problem within the welfare system, we are also developing solutions that equip them to do something about it. This year, we released our first report focused on benefits cliffs solutions, which focused on fixes for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).



Our efforts to expand educational opportunity have given nearly 84,000 Georgia kids access to the schooling option that best fits their needs. And we led efforts to advance a groundbreaking school choice bill through the state senate. This means there’s strong momentum going into 2024 to expand education options for 500,000 more students stuck in Georgia’s failing schools. We also updated our Education Guide for parents and received the Lilburn Middle School Business Partner Recognition Award for partnering to deliver free relationship education classes for parents and students.

See How The Georgia Center For Opportunity Is Expanding Hope In 2024!

See How The Georgia Center For Opportunity Is Expanding Hope In 2024!



For families, parents continued to graduate from our Strengthening Families Program. And GCO kicked off our Raising Highly Capable Kids (RHCK) program with a vision-casting meeting attended by more than 20 community organizations. By reaching into homes, schools, and faith-based groups, RHCK teaches parents how to raise responsible, caring kids—and turns local communities into nurturing places where healthy families help people escape poverty. An example of how RHCK brings key stakeholders together to foster thriving families is the Lilly Endowment grant that introduced the Parents First Initiative to Lawrenceville.


National and state impact

Finally, GCO had a number of important wins with far-reaching, favorable media coverage on topics we care deeply about. This means that our voice was out there advancing importance conversations about human flourishing. For example, The Wall Street Journal ran our opinion piece calling out pre- and post-COVID crime comparisons for what they really are—an excuse not to blame bad public safety policies. And RealClearPolicy ran an article on our ideas to make safety nets more successful at turning welfare into work support.

Beyond these, GCO’s views were featured in important conversations about Georgia’s position among the leading states for economic freedom and why people remain trapped in poverty when there are so many public assistance programs. And for those concerned about rising crime across the nation, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution carried our must-read piece on public safety.


Wrapping up

Of course, these are just a handful of GCO’s successes in 2023. Yet each win adds to the legacy we are building to help our neighbors enjoy meaningful and productive lives in safe, vibrant communities that value work, education, and family. We’re proud of our successes this year, and we look forward to continuing to advance common-sense policy solutions in 2024 that bring greater peace, dignity, and freedom to individuals and families across Georgia and beyond.

Ask Dr. E: What should national leaders do to rescue America from an economic trainwreck?

Ask Dr. E: What should national leaders do to rescue America from an economic trainwreck?

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

Ask Dr. E: What should national leaders do to rescue America from an economic trainwreck?

Dear Dr. E: The American economy is a mess. Few could argue otherwise, at least with a straight face. Inflation is out of control. Our national debt is unsustainable. Social Security is teetering on bankruptcy. Homeownership is out of the question for millions of young people. Credit card debt is unbelievable. The list could go on and on. Is there any one specific thing you believe our national leaders should do that would rescue America from the economic trainwreck that seems inevitable? — REALISTIC AND WORRIED WORKING MAN FROM ALABAMA 

Many of our socioeconomic issues are directly linked to the health of the family structure. Suppose the family structure falls in any civilization. In that case, the number of married couples decreases, economic mobility decreases, median family income decreases, child poverty increases, racial tension increases, and educational tensions increase. The success of an economy is directly related to the stability of the family structure. You cannot have one without the other. Eric Cochling of the Georgia Center for Opportunity says, “To reinvigorate opportunity in America, we must start by restoring the health and vitality of the American family. Nothing less will do.” If the family falls, so does the economy. 

Ask Dr. E: What should national leaders do to rescue America from an economic trainwreck?

Getting serious about teen violence in Washington, D.C.: Louisville, Kentucky, provides a solution

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

Getting serious about teen violence in Washington, D.C.: Louisville, Kentucky, provides a solution

In this opinion editorial published in The Washington Times, Joshua Crawford highlights the escalating crime crisis in Washington, D.C., particularly focusing on a significant surge in violent crimes, including a staggering 104% increase in carjackings from the previous year. Crawford points out that a majority of carjacking arrestees in the city are under 18, with many being repeat offenders associated with or recruited by street gangs. The author suggests that Washington can learn from Louisville, Kentucky’s successful efforts to address teen violence. In Louisville, Republican state Rep. Kevin Bratcher spearheaded House Bill 3, a comprehensive measure aimed at holding violent juvenile offenders accountable and providing treatment. The bill mandates immediate detention for juveniles charged with serious violent offenses, offering a disruptive intervention in the cycle of violence. It also allocates funds for a new detention center and treatment programs, including cognitive behavioral therapy.

The new law creates early intervention points for truants who show no improvement in their diversion programs. It does so by allowing an interdisciplinary team to alter the treatment modalities earlier and a judge to hold noncompliant parents accountable if they willingly refuse to aid in their child’s diversion plan. Unresolved truancy is strongly predictive of future juvenile delinquency and even adult criminality. So, getting it right with those children today can prevent serious violence tomorrow.”

Crawford emphasizes the importance of early intervention, proposing measures like altering treatment modalities for truants and holding noncompliant parents accountable. He also advocates for stronger penalties for adults involved in driving juvenile violence, citing the success of Kentucky’s stricter penalties for recruiting juveniles into gangs.

The article concludes by asserting that, while juvenile violence continues to rise in Washington, D.C., Louisville has seen a leveling off and signs of decline in total shootings, suggesting that bold action and the adoption of effective policies can reverse the trend in public safety.