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May 2--  Governor Nathan Deal's press office issued the following release:

Gov. Nathan Deal today signed into law historic reforms in the state’s criminal justice system. HB 1176 will revolutionize how Georgia punishes nonviolent crimes by seeking alternative treatments where possible and preserving expensive prison beds for offenders who pose a danger to society.

“With this bold new direction in criminal justice, we will bolster public safety, increase our chances of rehabilitating lives and bend the unsustainable cost curve we face in our prison system,” Deal said. “We spend $1.2 billion a year on our prison system and those costs were set to soar far beyond what we can afford. That makes no sense for taxpayers when there are most cost-effective means that have better outcomes.

“The Criminal Justice Reform Council worked all year, receiving input from all corners of the state, and I have asked the members to continue their work through this year to explore other areas for reforms. The result was a piece of legislation with support so deep that it passed unanimously in both chambers of the Legislature. This will pay dividends to taxpayers over and over, from the reduced cost to our prison system to the increase in the number of people who return to the workforce and support their families.”