DCSS Employee Appointed by Governor to Serve on Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform

August 30, 2013

Division of Child Support Services employee J.P. Taylor has been appointed by Governor Nathan Deal to serve as a member of the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform.  Mr. Taylor is the Problem Solving Court Coordinator for the Pataula Judicial Circuit (Cuthbert) in southwest Georgia.

House Bill 349 statutorily created the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform for the pupose of conducting periodic comprehensive reviews of criminal laws, criminal procedure, sentencing laws, adult correctional issues, juvenile justice issues, enhancement of probation and parole supervision, better management of the prison population and of the population in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice and other issues related to criminal proceedings and accountability courts.  The reviews are designed to help ensure that the juvenile justice system and criminal justice system are effective and efficient in fulfilling their purposes.

The following individuals have been appointed by the Governor as members of the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform:

•   Co-chair - Honorable Michael Boggs, Judge, Georgia Court of Appeals

•   Co-chair - Thomas Worthy, Esq., Deputy Executive Counsel, Office of the Governor

•   Honorable Bill Cowsert, Senator, District 46

•   Honorable Jay Neal, Representative, District 2

•   Honorable Jason Deal, Judge, Superior Court of the Northeastern Judicial Circuit

•   Honorable Steve Teske, Judge, Clayton County Juvenile Court

•   Jackie Johnson, Esq., District Attorney, Brunswick Judicial Circuit

•   Christine Van Dross, Esq., Public Defender, Clayton County

•   Scott Berry, Sheriff, Oconee County

•   Katie Jo Ballard, Director, Governor’s Office for Children and Families

•   Paul Bolster, Esq., Executive Director, Georgia Supportive Housing Association

•   Rev. Darrell Elligan, Pastor, True Light Baptist Church

•   Henry Kelly, Project Executive, Georgia Power Company

•   Teresa Roseborough, Esq., Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, The Home Depot

•   J.P. Taylor, Coordinator, Problem Solving Court, Pataula Judicial Circuit

House Bill 349 was passed during the 2013 legislative session and signed by the Governor.

The bill restores judicial discretion by allowing a departure from mandatory minimum sentences in some very limited circumstances.  As a result, judges now have the option to make more appropriate decisions in drug-related cases where the defendant is not the ringleader of the criminal enterprise, or in the other cases where the prosecution, defense attorney and judge agree.

The bill also contains provisions to keep communities safer by breaking the cycle of recidivism.  Limited driving permits will now be available for issue to defendants and participants in a drug court or mental health court program, allowing them to get to school or work as long as they meet the program’s requirements.  The legislation also permits individuals who have earned a HOPE GED voucher while incarcerated to use it within two years of release.