Georgia’s Juvenile Justice Incentive Grants (JJIG) allocate state and federal resources for effective community-based programs as alternatives to out-of-home placements for juvenile offenders. By reserving out-of-home placements for serious, high-risk offenders and reinvesting savings into community evidence-based programs, Georgia is able to increase public safety, reduce recidivism and promote positive relationships between youth, their families and their community.
Youth eligible for the JJIG must have a delinquent adjudication and score moderate- to high-risk on Georgia’s Pre-Disposition Risk Assessment. Grantee courts selected to implement the JJIG must commit to using evidence-based programs (EBPs) and objective tools to inform key decisions throughout the judicial process. Currently, JJIG sites can select from six EBPs: Aggression Replacement Training, Brief Strategic Family Therapy, Functional Family Therapy, Multisystemic Therapy, Seven Challenges and Thinking for a Change.
In 2012, Governor Nathan Deal charged Georgia’s Council on Criminal Justice Reform with studying the juvenile justice system. The ensuing report found approximately 95 percent of youth in Georgia’s secure juvenile facilities were in long-term placements and nearly two-thirds of the budget for the Department of Juvenile Justice (GDJJ) was used to operate out-of-home facilities, at a cost of more than $90,000 per bed per year. Despite these expenditures, over half of the youth in the juvenile justice system were re-adjudicated delinquent or convicted of a criminal offense within three years of release. Per the recommendations of the report, following the 2013 legislative session, Governor Deal signed into law House Bill 242, landmark legislation to improve Georgia’s juvenile justice system. At that time, Governor Deal and the General Assembly appropriated resources to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) for the purpose of creating the JJIG program.
The JJIG program was implemented in late 2013, and provided 29 juvenile courts spanning 49 counties with grants to implement EBPs. Today the JJIG serves counties housing over 60 percent of the at-risk population. All other Georgia counties are eligible for EBPs through the GDJJ.
Since the JJIG was implemented, Georgia has reduced out-of-home placements by over 50 percent in Incentive Grant recipient counties compared to the 2012 baseline. During the first year of the JJIG, 1,122 youth were served through EBPs, and by the third year, the number had increased to 1,723 youth, for a total of 4,511 youth served in those three years. In addition, the overall graduation rate for youth in the JJIG program was 62 percent, with some EBPs seeing rates up to 85 percent.
The JJIG was initially funded in 2013, with a $5 million appropriation from the state and approximately $1 million in federal funding from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Currently, the JJIG program receives $8.2 million (88 percent) of its funding from the state, with the remaining $1 million (12 percent) of its funding from Title II funding administered by OJJDP.