“Georgia is number one as far as having the most people on probation”; new law could terminate felony probations after three years

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Augusta-Senate Bill 105 calls for early termination for non-violent felony probations after three years, but there are some requirements a probationer would need to meet in order to get an early termination.

“The spider-web represents the justice system, of getting caught in the web, because once you’re in it, your usually stuck in it for awhile,” says Michael Sharp as he shows NewsChannel 6 some of his tattoos.

It’s been six months since Michael Sharp was released from prison.

Sharp says, “I started messing up when I started selling drugs and naturally, that’s not a good way to go, I got caught selling to an undercover police officer and got charged for that.”

Sharp was sentenced to three years in prison and 15 years of felony probation. Senate bill 105 could shorten that probation time for him.

“I think it’s really a great thing, because I still got 15 years left on probation and after 3 years I could terminate all of that, I think that would be a life changer for somebody,” he said.

Senate Bill 105, also known as the Behavioral Incentive Date, was first introduced back in 2018.
DeVarion Blount is the founder of Blount beginnings. It’s a non-profit organization to help returning citizens get back on their feet after being incarcerated.

Blount says “I feel like with them having to pay those fees every month, it doesn’t allow them to really be able to be free.”

He says this bill gives felony offenders a second chance.

Georgia is number one as far as having the most people on probation. I think it’s like 191 thousand people that are on probation. So, having that amount of people on probation, it doesn’t allow people to move freely. You have people that want to get jobs but they can’t.”

In order to get an early termination, a probationer would have to meet three requirements.

“Bill 105 tells us that any person who’s been sentenced to a specific amount of probation or less than 12 months of confinement, is allowed to be considered for early termination of probation as long as they’ve been on probation for three years, they’ve had no new felony offenses, no new misdemeanor offenses outside of a minor traffic citations; such as failure to yield at a stop sign and they are current on all restitution and it has been paid in full,” Tianna Bias, a defense attorney with the Hawk Law group said.

Bias says the bill isn’t anything new.

She says, “What differentiates bill 105 from previous bills is that it uses the word shall throughout the bill so previously it left it up to the judge it left it up to the court and it really did not have clear cut criteria with bill 105 it says you shall have an incentive date, which is 3 years from your sentence.”

The bill also states that a judge would need to grant that termination, but there’s more to it.

“Within 30 days of that incentive outline being reached anyone that meets that criteria will receive notice from the department of community supervision the prosecutor will also receive notice as well the court and the defense attorney as long as no one request a hearing on that incentive date being addressed then that person will be terminated from probation early,” says Bias.

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