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Georgia cuts juvenile justice budget; our is watching

Our Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw State University outside of Atlanta is trying an experiment in niche journalism. Our Juvenile Justice Information Exchange ( is the only journalism entity in Georgia reporting on juvenile justice issues daily and persistently. We owe it to the 20,000 kids, the families and employees touched by the system and affected by the policies that the decision makers make.

Now’s watchdog, reporting role is more important than ever. Budget cuts are slashing at the very fabric of the system, which has two alternatives: to improve or get worse.

The budget cuts in the system could result in fewer beds for youth offenders in detention centers and believe or not, that could be a good thing. Here is the lead of the story by our reporter Chandra R. Thomas:

Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Board members say there’s possibly a silver lining to the proposed 2011 budget cuts released today. They say despite the many challenges the cuts raise, there’s great potential for positive outcomes from the reductions recently mandated by Governor Sonny Perdue, but they’re mostly contingent on legislative support.

The department’s Deputy Commissioner Jeff Minor said:

“What we’re basically saying is with this reduction of beds that there is an opportunity for a conversation to be had about who needs to be in these beds. The worst thing you can do is to lock up a kid who doesn’t need to be there. It sets them on a cycle that is hard to stop once it starts.”

Board member Sandra Taylor agrees, saying:

“Legislators don’t need to know that children are our future; they already know that. What we need to do is provide them with the information behind the impact of these cuts. It’s our responsibility as an agency to keep that in the forefront of their thoughts.”

I boldfaced the words above because it is also a responsibility to keep all these issues in the forefront of everyone’s thoughts. If we don’t do it, no one else will.

2 Responses to “Georgia cuts juvenile justice budget; our is watching”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I am wondering when JJIE will do more stories like this where the writers assess the things that affect kids structurally (a reduction in these budgets and in the budgets of schools, kids in jail for life, kids tried as adults who are not, in fact, legally adults, the effects of poverty on children, the consistent cuts in children’s health care because no one will stand up for them, kids being targeted by army recruiting centers, a hotbed of pre-teen and teen sex trafficking in Atlanta etc.)

    I love the site, but it seems overly concerned with delinquency prevention and neglects some other issues. Juvenile justice issues are only 10% inside the courts. Other things go unnoticed and that is where journalists must be involved! They must open our eyes to the things that go unseen.

    Good luck in the endeavor! I keep reading the site and am looking forward to more postings.

  2. Leonard Witt Says:

    Thanks anonymous commenter above. It’s a thoughtful note and I will pass it on to our editorial director Ellen Miller.

    I am sure she will consider everything said and perhaps post it at the site. You are right, the delinquency story cannot be told without putting in the context of deprivation.

    Thanks again for your interest in the work we are doing.