By Nyamekye Daniel
The Center Square
Georgia’s criminal justice system could see one of the biggest budget cuts in the state’s effort to streamline operations.
The state corrections, community supervision, bureau of investigation and juvenile justice agencies as well as the public defender’s office could cut hundreds of millions of dollars previously allocated for the next two fiscal years to meet the governor’s mandate for less spending.
Gov. Brian Kemp ordered state agency heads to propose plans to cut spending by 4 percent in 2020 and 6 percent in 2021 from the state’s $27 billion budget. The agencies submitted their proposals to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget last week.
Five of the agencies within the justice system in Georgia may lose staff and programs, according to budget amendment documents.
The Department of Corrections would cut $112 million from its operations in total for 2020 and 2021. The agency plans to spend less on state prisons, transitions services and training programs. Several positions would be frozen.
The Department of Juvenile Justice would operate on $35 million less over the next two years.
The agency would reduce pay and eliminate some positions. It would also cancel an annual professional development conference and eliminate landlines for employees with cellphones.
The Department of Supervision, which oversees 180,000 parolees in the state, including those on house arrest and probation, would save a total of $19 million in 2020 and 2021.
The Public Defender’s Council would trim its budget to $6 million, reducing cellphone and hot spot use and training programs as well as 10-day furloughs.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation would mostly see a reduction in staff. It plans to eliminate positions in background check services, dismiss three forensic scientists, two lab technicians, 12 officers and four other investigators.
Kemp said his effort for more efficient spending is part of his campaign promise “to always put hardworking Georgians first.”
In August, the state’s tax revenue collections were 2.8 percent less than last year’s.