A longtime vocal proponent of juvenile-justice reform coming to Blueprints to share his experience
The Georgia justice system was, to put it mildly, not stellar. The state had gotten on the tough-on-crime bandwagon in the early 90s. That led to the number of prisoners in state lockups jumping from 20,000 in 1990 to 50,000 14 years later. The numbers looked even worse when you considered that a 2009 Pew study determined that one in 13 Georgians were either in jail, on probation or parole. This gave Georgia the dubious distinction of having the highest such rate in the country. Throw into this mix that although blacks were only 31 percent of the state’s population, they accounted for 58 percent of prisoners.
But things have been changing as the attitude of sweep up offenders, even ones who commit lesser crimes, and throw them into prison has changed. Judge Steven C. Teske has been at the forefront of that movement. He is a highly respected jurist who started his career in the justice- system trenches as Atlanta’s Chief Parole Officer, working his way up to chief judge of Clayton County’s juvenile court.