Changes to Georgia’s Probation System Yield Positive Early Results

April 18, 2018

As a result of justice reinvestment legislation passed in Georgia in mid-2017, 17,570 active felony probation cases were moved to unsupervised status later that year, and more active cases continue to be transitioned at a steady pace. Probation officer caseload sizes have also decreased from an average of 170 people on active probation in 2016 to an average of 130 currently. These changes ensure that officers can focus their time on people who are most likely to reoffend, thereby reducing recidivism and increasing public safety.

Under the legislation, certain people on felony probation who are at a low risk of reoffending can be shifted to unsupervised status after two years provided that restitution obligations have been paid in full and those people have maintained good conduct. Further, people who are sentenced to probation for certain first-time offenses receive a behavioral incentive date (BID). If a person remains in compliance with the terms of his or her supervision, has no new arrests, and has paid all restitution prior to reaching the BID, his or her probation will be reduced from an average term of five years to no more than three years.

The legislation was spurred by the fact that Georgia has the highest probation rate in the country; 1 in 17 adults were on felony or misdemeanor probation in 2014 alone. Approximately 50,000 people in the state on active felony supervision in 2016 had been on supervision for more than two years, even though research shows that people are most likely to recidivate within the first year of their supervision term.


This project was supported by Grant No. 2015-ZB-BX-K001 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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