Widner Applauds Progress Toward Overhaul of Juvenile Code
Juvenile justice advocates are optimistic that a bill to overhaul Georgia’s 40-year-old juvenile code will be voted on in the 2012 General Assembly, following hearings before the House Judiciary Committee last week.
“I look forward to working with the stakeholders on working out the few remaining issues. It’s a really good feeling to know we’re all here working together for the best interest of Georgia’s children,” said Emory Law’s Kirsten Widner, in a report published Aug. 26 by the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.
As director of policy and advocacy for Emory’s Barton Child Law and Policy Center, Widner has worked closely with other child advocates on The Child Protection and Safety Act.
Under current law, provisions relating to abuse and neglect (dependency) “are intermingled with those related to children who have violated criminal law (delinquency),” according to the act’s summary.
The proposed act redefines key terms: abuse, child in need of services, dependency and imminent danger. It reorganizes the juvenile courts section into 12 articles that seek to improve the lives of children in foster care and families under court supervision by updating and strengthening Georgia’s juvenile laws and related social service programs.
The act, known as the Children’s Code Rewrite, represents policy work begun in 2004 and first introduced during the 2009 General Assembly. New bills were introduced in the Senate and the House this year by Sen. Bill Hamrick and Rep. Wendell Willard respectively.