The Department is implementing new sentencing alternatives after the state-mandated budget reductions led to the closure of diversion centers, said Kristen Stancil, public relations and information specialist with the Georgia Department of Corrections. Our research shows day reporting centers are more effective than diversion centers in combating recidivism.
She said, in a 2005 Georgia State University study day,
reporting centers had a less than a 10-percent recidivism rate for offenders completing the program, compared with the 26-percent recidivism rate for diversion centers.
And the cost is less.
The average cost per day per offender for a day reporting center is $10 as opposed to diversion centers $55 per day, she said.
The DOC announced it would close the Rome Diversion Center in July as a part of state-mandated budget reductions.
Ken Ward, administrator of the Rome Day Reporting Center,
said the center has graduated nearly 200 since opening in 2005.
Rome is one of the five original pilot programs, said Ward. The concept is new to Georgia, but its not new.
The day reporting center in Rome has less than the average 10-percent recidivism rate and has had around 50 GED graduates a number he describes as phenomenal.
He said the number of GED graduates at the Rome center tops the numbers from other reporting centers.
He said the teachers from Coosa Valley Technical College teach GED classes, and the North Rome Church of God donates about 20 GED scholarships a year.
These are only a few of the groups who donate time and funds and thats not including private individuals.
He said community is the key to rehabilitation, and the family is an integral part of the program.
The family is very involved, said Ward. They learn about the program, and that helps.
The DOC plans to open four more day reporting centers during the 2009 fiscal year in Gainesville, Columbus, Atlanta and Northwest Georgia.
Also five more are planned for the 2010 fiscal year in Savannah, Albany, Thomasville, Marietta and Dekalb County.
Offenders completing a day report center program are far less likely to recidivate than offenders who spent several years in prison, said James E. Donald, commissioner of the DOC. And the cost to the taxpayer is about a fourth of the cost of incarceration.
Nearly 90 percent of our $1.1 billion annual budget is spent running prisons, said Donald. The growth of the prison system is driven by mandatory sentences, arguably the most conservative parole board in the nation and more recently the scourge of methamphetamine sweeping across our state.