March 2014

Georgia Expansion Showing Results

Evidence-based programs put in place in response to Georgia's 2013 Juvenile Justice Reform law are already showing positive results.

Programs set up in October point to improvement: the number of kids in detention in the state is the lowest it's been in several years, says Georgia Home-Based Services program director Sedgrid Lewis, who was instrumental in helping several state (local) agencies prepare for the new initiative. "They're at a third of their capacity," says Lewis. "Judges given the choice are opting not to lock kids up."

When Community Solutions, Inc. (CSI) decided to expand its services in Georgia in response to the new law, it was proactive.

"We did not sit back and wait for proposals," says Lewis. "We went into communities and partnered with them, started the conversation, sat down and helped many design a program that would work for them. CSI is a leader when it comes to partnering, and this is an example."

"Sedgrid and his staff got everyone talking," says Susan Pribyson, vice president of CSI. "Our success in Georgia is thanks to the groundwork they've laid in the state over the years."

In anticipation of the new law, which took effect Jan. 1, county leaders began pre-planning in July in order to be operational by Oct. 1. Aimed at reducing the number of juvenile offenders in custody, the reform includes an incentive grant for evidence-based services. The $4 million grant gave county agencies the opportunity to pick a preferred evidence-based program for home-based services for high-risk kids diverted from the state's detention centers. Four prior convictions, including a felony, are required before judges can commit young offenders.

"Judges and court administrators reached out to me (CSI) to help them figure out how we could partner to apply the grant money toward the best services," says Lewis. He and his team met with county leaders and agencies across Georgia to determine their needs, budget and the program that would be the best fit. "They put a lot of time and money into the design of these programs."

CSI's involvement in Georgia is part of a larger juvenile justice reform project in partnership with Evidence-Based Associates. Learn more