The Georgia Senate approved a measure Thursday that could help thousands of people convicted of crimes get off probation.
Senate Bill 105 would allow those convicted of felonies to end probation early. To qualify, they must have spent at least three years on probation, paid all restitution and not been arrested for anything more serious than a traffic violation since being placed on probation. Only people who had no prior felony convictions would be eligible.
Sen. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, the bill’s sponsor, said it would benefit people trying to turn their lives around while easing the burden on Georgia’s probation system.
“It’s the right thing to do for fiscal responsibility. It’s the right thing to do for public safety,” Strickland told fellow senators Thursday. “It’s the right thing to do for criminal justice.”
SB 105 is the latest attempt to make Georgia’s criminal justice system more forgiving and to ease its toll on the state budget. In 2017 lawmakers approved changes that were supposed to get people off probation if they have avoided more legal trouble.
But four year later Georgia still has more people on probation per capita than any other state. In 2020, about 203,000 Georgians were on probation.
Under SB 105, the Department of Corrections could recommend that a judge waive the remainder of an offender’s probation if he or she meets the criteria. Prosecutors could request a hearing to object.
Senators approved the measure unanimously. It now goes to the House of Representatives.