ATLANTA (AP) - The Georgia Senate has approved a sweeping overhaul of the state's juvenile justice system.
The Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved the bill sponsored by Sandy Springs Republican Rep. Wendell Willard. It aims to reduce the number of repeat offenders and reduce costs. It's based on recommendations of a special panel convened by Gov. Nathan Deal.
It calls for emphasizing community-based programs over residential detention centers for non-violent youth offenders, providing judges with greater discretion in sentencing and offering more mental health and drug counseling.
The bill now goes back to the House for approval of minor changes made by a Senate committee.
The reform has been a few years in the making. It comes a year after lawmakers enacted major changes to the adult criminal justice system with similar aims.