Senator Brian Strickland’s (R-McDonough) legislation on probation reform unanimously passed the Senate Chamber and will crossover to the House Chamber for deliberation next week.
Senate Bill 105 (SB 105) provides a unified process by which certain individuals that have served at least three years on probation, have not committed any new offenses, have successfully met a list of eligibility criteria, and have paid all restitution, can seek termination of their probation sentence.
The bill could impact tens of thousands of individuals who have successfully proven they have met their milestones and have been law-abiding citizens.
The bill was introduced to address the fact that Georgia’s previous probation reforms of 2017 have not had the impact legislators intended.
There are the same number of individuals serving felony probation today (over 200,000) as there were in 2017.
Georgia continues to have more individuals on community supervision (probation or parole) than any other state in the country: 1 in 18 Georgians compared to 1 in 58 nationally – more than 3 times the national average.
Singularly, lengthy probation sentences account for Georgia’s disparity. The average probation sentence in Georgia is 6.3 years versus the nationwide average of 2 years. 40 percent of all probation sentences in Georgia exceed 10 years.
Georgia Justice Project (GJP) has served Georgians who have been affected by the criminal justice system for 35 years, and has seen the positive impact this legislation will have on Georgia communities.
GJP’s Executive Director Doug Ammar, applauded the Senate’s passage of the bill.
“Currently, Georgia law provides three pathways for individuals to have their probation terminated given good behavior— but each pathway has its own eligibility criteria, court process, and court standard making the process confusing and inaccessible. SB105 streamlines the existing pathways so that Georgians who have proven their rehabilitation will now have the ability to get early termination and have access to economic opportunities, provide for themselves, their families, and contribute to their community.”
Georgia Justice Project and the REFORM Community Supervision coalition, which includes Faith and Freedom Coalition, REFORM Alliance, RestoreHer and the American Conservative Union Foundation, have joined together in advocating for passage of this legislation.