— Press Release

NEW: Stacey Abrams Introduces First Pillar of Robust Plan to Strengthen Public Safety, Address Violent Crime and Reform Criminal Justice in Georgia

Abrams’ plan would reconvene fmr. Gov. Deal bipartisan task force, invest in communities, address cycles of recidivism, support reentry, and more

ATLANTA – Today, Democratic nominee for Governor, Stacey Abrams, introduced the first pillar of a comprehensive plan to strengthen public safety, address violent crime and reform criminal justice in Georgia. The first pillar of the plan addresses these issues by combatting the fundamental causes of violence by reducing gun violence, decriminalizing poverty, decreasing recidivism and supporting reentry. 

“Every Georgian deserves to feel safe in their communities. As governor, I will secure our state so Georgians have the freedom to live, work, go to school and play without fear,” said Stacey Abrams. “As House Democratic Leader, I worked across the aisle with former Governor Nathan Deal to pass criminal justice reform in Georgia — a multi-year bipartisan effort that the current governor irresponsibly disbanded. As violence continues to rise across the state under his leadership, we must recognize that in order to achieve public safety, we must also invest in criminal justice. We cannot punish our way to safety. It doesn’t work – it never has. As governor, I will build on Governor Deal’s legacy by reconvening the successful, bipartisan coalition that reduced crime, saved taxpayer dollars and made our communities safer.”

The first pillar of Abrams’ robust plan to address public safety and criminal justice has received praise from Georgians across the state who are committed to building One Georgia where all of our residents feel safe and have the opportunity to thrive:  

“Stacey’s public safety and criminal justice plan is a comprehensive approach to the challenges facing communities throughout our state. Her plan addresses the issues of public safety from all angles by bringing together stakeholders who understand how to reduce and prevent violent crime while restoring criminal justice reform so that Georgia will be a leader for the nation in advancing public safety,” said Darius Pattillo, Henry County District Attorney.

“I’m a Republican, but I support where Stacey stands on this issue because of her track record of working across the aisle with Governor Nathan Deal to find common ground for smart criminal justice reform. I have very personal expectations about her plan to build on Governor Deal’s legacy and implement evidence-based solutions that make our communities safer without tearing families apart. As a mother who lost her son to addiction – the same addiction that led to his incarceration –  I’ve witnessed the machinery of a cruel system that fails to correct and keep us safe. Since that day, I’ve joined mothers across the nation and of all political backgrounds to give the incarcerated and their families a sincere space to voice their needs,” said Kate Boccia, President and CEO of the National Incarceration Association. 

“Georgia requires a public safety plan that addresses our needs from street corners to corrections facilities. Stacey Abrams’ plan wisely addresses prevention, rapid responses to violence, and bringing new opportunities to those at the end of their sentences. This approach is smart and focused and will bring greater peace and prosperity to every neighborhood and town in Georgia,” said Kelly Girtz, Mayor of Athens.

“I know from experience as a formerly incarcerated woman that we are better supported when the root causes of crime are addressed and not ignored or hidden inside a cage that further exacerbates the problems. Our state and our citizens are better off when we tackle our problems at their roots. We need housing not jail beds, healthcare not handcuffs. We need essential services that will reduce recidivism and build a safer community,” said Marilynn Winn, criminal justice expert and advocate. 

Stacey Abrams is the only candidate with a comprehensive plan to address violent crime and reform our criminal justice system in Georgia. 

Specifically, as governor, she will:

Combat the fundamental causes of violence and decriminalize poverty: 

  • Expand Medicaid to broaden access to mental health and substance abuse treatment and reduce the role of law enforcement in crisis intervention
  • Support wraparound services for high-risk communities to decrease incident rates, including targeting challenged schools/neighborhoods that produce a disproportionate number of youth offenders
  • Require civil rather than criminal penalties for certain traffic and low-level drug offenses to reduce recidivism and escalation of criminal behavior
  • Target programs to increase educational and community opportunities for at-risk young people beginning in 3rd grade through joint projects with schools and nonprofits 
  • Secure mental health and behavioral therapy for highest-risk youth and offer family interventions
  • Expand employment training and opportunities, including apprenticeships, for high-risk youth

Reduce gun violence:

  • Coordinate with and secure financial incentives for local governments, law enforcement agencies, and community organizations to design and implement violence intervention programs
  • Reduce guns on the streets by repealing bills that needlessly endanger Georgians — including criminal carry, campus carry, and the 2014 “Guns Everywhere” law
  • Close the background check loophole for private transfers and gun show sales
  • Close the domestic violence perpetrators loophole
  • Adopt red flag legislation to prevent those who pose a danger to themselves or others to purchase a weapon or to be reported for protective actions

Reduce recidivism and support reentry:

  • Establish a new Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Task Force that builds on Governor Nathan Deal’s legacy by reconvening stakeholders — including law enforcement, prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, judges, advocates, and formerly incarcerated Georgians — to collaborate on evidence-based solutions to our public safety challenges
  • Restore and expand proven interventions like eliminating private probation, expanding diversion programs and funding accountability courts such as veterans’ courts and drug courts
  • Realign investments in treatment, education, and job training that will enable people to live crime-free lives after release
  • Strengthen self-help programs for people released from prison, 
  • Expand access to mental health and substance abuse treatment through Medicaid expansion
  • Incentivize employers to hire people reentering their community
  • Enact Clean Slate legislation that offers automatic clearing of criminal records once someone remains crime-free for a set period of time

View Stacey Abrams’ full plan here.