The legislation has support from the Georgia Department of Community Supervision, which manages the state’s probation and parole programs, and activists such as the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition and the Georgia Justice Project, which provides legal defense to low-income people charged with crimes. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved the legislation.
“We know that for people to be successful they have to have access to economic opportunity and have to have access to employment,” said Lisa McGahan, policy director with the Georgia Justice Project. “And we also know that when you’re serving a very long probation sentence, those two things are mutually exclusive.”
Scott Maurer, assistant commissioner in the Department of Community Supervision, told the Senate panel that implementing the legislation would have little impact on the way his agency manages probations and help with its caseload.
If the bill passes, the Department of Community Supervision could recommend that a judge waive the remainder of an offender’s probation. It would apply only in cases of felons who were sentenced either to probation or less than a year followed by probation, provided they have paid all restitution and have not faced any new arrests for anything more than a “nonserious traffic offense.”
The court could either grant the waiving of the sentence or a judge would have to set a hearing to consider ending probation early within 90 days of the recommendation. The recommendation would also be sent to the prosecutor’s office, and the prosecutor could request the hearing.