Judges from Georgia participate in “European-American Prison Project”

Three Georgia judges spent a whirl-wind week in Germany and the Netherlands visiting correctional facilities and exchanging ideas and strategies with European officials and policymakers.
altChief Judge Brenda S. Weaver (pictured at right, red scarf), Superior Court, Appalachian Judicial Circuit; Judge David Emerson, Superior Court, Douglas Judicial Circuit; and Judge Stephen Goss (pictured at right), Superior Court, Dougherty Judicial Circuit; Rep. Jay Neal; Sen. Rick Jeffries; Charles Spahos, Director, Prosecuting Attorneys Council; Stan Cooper, Georgia Department of Corrections; and Becky East, Georgia Department of Corrections, joined teams from Colorado and Pennsylvania on the European-American Prison Project of the Vera Institute of Justice.
From February 17-23, the teams toured four prison facilities, two in Germany and two in Holland, to experience how European justice systems deal with criminal behavior.  The groups were given legal briefings in both countries. 
alt“Their approach to incarceration is radically different than here,” said Judge Emerson (pictured at left).  In Germany, a person is considered a juvenile until age 24.  Guards knock on doors; prisoners have extensive contact with their families.  There are opportunities to learn trades.  Psychologists work directly with inmates.  “The idea is that these offenders will be our neighbor’s again.”
The European-American Prison Project aims to advance an international dialogue around what works in corrections, influence the beliefs and attitudes of important stakeholders, and stimulate reform efforts in the United States.  The Vera Institute of Justice combines expertise in research, demonstration projects, and technical assistance to help leaders in government and civil society improve the systems people rely on for justice and safety.


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