ATLANTA — Reform of the state juvenile justice system will be the focus this morning when Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein gives her final State of the Judiciary address.
The annual address — Hunstein’s fourth as chief justice — begins at 11 a.m. today at a joint meeting of the General Assembly’s House and Senate.
A release from the Supreme Court on Tuesday gave a glimpse of the remarks she will make to lawmakers.
“Today, we as Georgians — and as a nation — stand at a crossroads in juvenile justice history,” Hunstein’s release reads. “We have learned, just as we did with adult criminal justice, that cracking down on juvenile crime is not enough. We must also be smart about juvenile crime and take action to reduce it.”
Hunstein is a member of the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform, which examined reducing recidivism and the cost of the adult prison system its first year. The council’s second year has focused on improving the state’s system for dealing with juvenile justice. Officials say that 65 percent of the young people now housed in Georgia youth prisons will commit another crime within three years of being released.
“If we thought the poor return on our investment in the adult arena warranted criminal justice reform, surely the poor return on our investment in children warrants juvenile justice reform,” Hunstein’s release said.
The cost of Georgia’s judiciary, which comprises less than 1 percent of state spending, will be brought up as well. “That means,” the chief justice wrote, “that for every Georgia citizen’s tax dollar, less than one penny goes to funding the entire judicial branch of government.”
The speech can be viewed live on the Internet at www.gpb.com.