June 16, 1998:
Tom Bearden reports on the parole leglislation in Georgia.
January 8, 1998:
A panel discussion on substance abuse in prisons.
May 8, 1997:
The House considers a crackdown on juvenile crime.
February 20, 1996:
Elizabeth Farnsworth and Stuart Taylor discuss mandatory sentencing.
February 14, 1996:
David Gergen and Judge Harold Rothwax discuss the effectiveness of the criminal justice system.
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View the text of the bill sponsored by Georgia Sen. Purdue.
The Georgia Senate
Is parole a part of the correction process or an easy way out of jail?
The Georgia legislature is considering abolishing parole for those convicted of felonies. Called the "truth in sentencing law" by legislators, the plan would end Georgia's current system of sentencing criminals to a range of years and would guarantee that the convicted would stay in prison for the duration of their sentence.
State senator Sonny Perdue, one of the sponsors of the bill, thinks most Georgians will support the change.
"We think the people of Georgia want truth in sentencing," Perdue told the NewsHour's Tom Bearden. "When the judge says five years, that it means five years."
Though the legislature has yet to approve Perdue's bill, Georgia may vote to end parole as early as this fall. If the legislature does adopt truth in sentencing, it will become the 18th state since the 1970s to move to this system.
While many of Georgia's elected officials have endorsed the changes, many criminologists and prison wardens worry that abolishing parole could wreak havoc in the state's already-overcrowded prison system.
For example North Carolina, which adopted its own Structured Sentencing Act in 1993, has had to deal with the consequences of mandatory sentencing.
In a March 1998 report, North Carolina's Sentencing Commission chairman Tom Ross reflected on the demands abolishing parole places on the personnel.
"From my perspective, the Sentencing Commission was not in a position to understand the full impact of Structured Sentencing on the Department of Correction," Ross wrote. "From [a prison bond referendum in 1990], prison construction has doubled the capacity in the Division of Prisons. That in and of itself is unbelievable. . . Then, on top of that, the Division of Adult Probation and Parole had to recruit, hire, train, and put more than 500 new officers in the field to manage a more serious population."
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