Monday, January 23, 2012

Changes to Georgia's Criminal Code: Proposed Change to the Felony Threshold for Theft by Taking

[Photo of Ga. State Prison from wikipedia]
We have discussed before in this blog the topic of proposed changes to the Georgia criminal code.  In this state, it appears that this is a topic about which both liberals and conservatives seem to find some common ground.  Both sides are advocating for alternatives to prison, especially for non-violent offenders.  And it appears that something might actually be done by the Georgia General Assembly to control state prison expenditures, currently costing Georgia taxpayers approximately $1 billion per year.

But  the point of this post is not about cost, but that we must carefully consider the ramifications of any proposed changes.  For example, one proposal of a special council on criminal justice reform, which was appointed to investigate potential changes, involves increasing the felony threshold for theft by taking in Georgia from the current $500 to $1500.  Another similar proposal calls for increasing the felony threshold for theft by shoplifting from $300 to $750.  (In other words, if the value of the stolen items is worth less than the felony threshold amount, it will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor).

What do you think about these and other proposed changes -- including having more drug courts and possibly veterans' courts and mental health courts -- which would mean that fewer folks will be incarcerated in this state?  As a former career (state and federal) prosecutor, (and, currently, as an Augusta, Georgia criminal defense attorney), while I agree with some of the proposals, I have some misgivings about some of the others, which I plan to air out in the coming weeks.

Have you read about these proposals?  Change is coming.  What do you think?

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