Marsy’s Law for Georgia Plans to Introduce Criminal Record Responsibility Act to General Assembly of Georgia

Friday, January 28th, 2022

Marsy’s Law for Georgia, with the support of the Office of Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan and sponsored by Georgia State Senator, District 50, Bo Hatchett, announced plans to introduce the Criminal Record Responsibility Act (“CRRA”) to the General Assembly of Georgia this legislative session. 

The CRRA aims to amend Title 15 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated to reestablish the Criminal Case Data Exchange Board as an advisory board to the Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia. Additionally, the powers of the Board will transfer to the Council, empowering the Council to create uniform rules for electronic filing, with advice from the judiciary, public safety and state officials. The legislation aims to begin the process of developing a comprehensive solution to the fragmented county court systems and inconsistent data entry throughout Georgia into the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC). 

Thus far, Georgia has been successful in digitizing civil court filings, however the filings for criminal cases have been severely lacking. Criminal data from jails and courts throughout the state’s 159 counties is not uniformly electronic, nor are any of the current systems equipped to communicate with each other. Where civil cases are driven by revenue from e-filing, the criminal court system has no such incentive nor the resources to self-fund the digitization of records.

Georgia citizens suffer several consequences as a result of this deficiency:

  • Judges considering pre-trial release and sentencing do not always have the offender’s full history, leading to violent criminals being released back into the public.

  • Crime victims do not have a uniform automatic notification system to advise them when offenders are being released or sentenced.

  • Employers cannot get timely or accurate background checks on potential applicants.

  • Citizens are denied jobs or other benefits due to improper or incomplete criminal history records being attached to their names.

The policy behind this legislative initiative is to improve public safety by enabling the provision of uniform case data and a more modern framework for sharing criminal records so that law enforcement, court officials, employers, victims and citizens have access to complete background information.  

“In order to improve public safety, a more uniform criminal data sharing process must be implemented,” said Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan. “There are hundreds of thousands of cases across the state that lack final dispositions, which give judges and prosecutors an incomplete view of an individual’s criminal background and negatively impacts peoples’ employability and housing opportunities.”

With a more modern and unified criminal data reporting system, justice can be properly and expeditiously served by:

  • Updating and clarifying requirements for submitting documents, including final dispositions, to the statewide GCIC.

  • Removing outdated and unnecessary layers to criminal data transmissions.

  • Authorizing grants to local criminal justice agencies, including court clerks, to upgrade their systems for better criminal data sharing.

  • Empowering the Council of Superior Court Clerks to set rules for filings within the court system.

What’s more, with a more modern system, Georgia can better meet its obligations to crime victims, granted by Marsy’s Law, the Georgia Crime Victims Bill of Rights, passed in 2018, who have the right to stay informed and receive notifications of their perpetrators’ movements throughout the criminal justice system.