Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Bringing Georgia's criminal justice reforms to Washington

New legislation from U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, aims to replicate some of the criminal justice reform efforts at the federal level that Texas and Georgia have pioneered in the South.

With a broader criminal justice overhaul effort now frozen in Congress, the Republican’s new bill is more tailored, focusing on lowering recidivism rates among federal prisoners.

The measure would require the attorney general to develop a system that looks into the factors that could determine a prisoner’s risk of recidivism, or reverting to criminal behavior, and the kinds of services such as vocational training, mental health and substance abuse counseling that could help them reenter society.

The bill would also encourage prisoners to participate in those activities by allowing them to serve the final days of their sentences at home confinement or in halfway houses.

“While fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers are in federal custody, we have the opportunity to help them take responsibility for their decisions and become agents of positive change in their own lives and in the lives of those around them,” Collins said in a statement.

Collins' legislation has attracted a broad cross-section of support so far, including the Republican chairman and top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, the socially conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition and the Justice Action Network, a group that lobbies for criminal justice reform.


According to the Washington Post, former House speaker John Boehner told a business gathering in Las Vegas last week that Republicans are “not going to repeal and replace Obamacare” because “the American people have gotten accustomed to it.”


More cheerleading this morning from the White House:


Former Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich may have a more visible role with the Trump White House in the weeks ahead.

Axios reports that the onetime House speaker, whose wife Callista was recently nominated to be the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, could have a more prominent public role as Trump circles the wagons for a big fight with special counsel Bob Mueller, who’s investigating Trump and his allies for possible ties to Russia.


We put in a call to see if former federal prosecutor Joe Whitley was still considering a late entry into Georgia’s 2018 Republican race for governor. And we’re told that he is.

Why did we ask? Because he’s joined the legal defense team for Reality Winner, who is accused of leaking a top-secret report about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

One doesn’t seem to jibe with the other.


Project Meatloaf, the code name for a Cobb County economic development effort, turned out to be a local. From the Marietta Daily Journal:

Atlanta-based filmmaker Tyler Perry is one step closer to receiving tens of millions in bonds and a 10-year tax abatement for permanently housing three of his company’s jets at Cobb County International Airport-McCollum Field.


The Development Authority of Cobb County voted unanimously Monday morning to adopt a $35.3 million bond resolution allowing Tyler Perry Studios to refinance its private, 70-passenger Lineage jet.


Perry’s attorneys said he will house the aircraft at a county-owned hangar along with his 14-seat Gulfstream G-5 and an 8-seater Embraer Phenom 100.


A member of the House’s Blue Dog Democrats, a group of conservative Democrats, said the results of last month’s Sixth District special election would have been different had the party run a more centrist candidate than Jon Ossoff.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, the group’s co-chair, told Politico that more centrist candidates can help Democrats win the educated suburban districts like the Sixth that the party will need to capture the House:

“If you’ve got a young, liberal filmmaker in a seat that [Tom] Price had, Newt Gingrich had, no matter how much money you spend, it’s going to be tough,” Cuellar said. “What happened if we would’ve had a different type of candidate? In my opinion, it would’ve been different.”

While Ossoff entered the Sixth District race with a “make Trump furious” message, he moved toward the center as the contest continued. It still wasn’t enough for the political newbie to win the district, which has been in Republican hands since the Carter administration.


President Donald Trump has grown more unpopular in Georgia over the last six months, according to Gallup.

The polling firm estimates that only 40 percent to 44 percent of Georgians approved of the commander-in-chief as of last month, and that his popularity sunk between 6 and 9 percentage points since he was sworn in back in January.

Trump won 51 percent of Georgia ballots last fall.


U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., is working overtime to salvage his unorthodox government spending proposal hatched earlier this summer.

Politico reports the Ranger Republican and his political allies have been working the phones to build GOP support for his 12-in-1 spending plan, red meat legislation aimed at giving Republican lawmakers something to hang their hats on when they return home to face voters over the August recess.

Leaders had pulled the plug on the proposal last week after too many Republicans said they were undecided. They instead opted for a scaled back four-in-one version (with extra money for President Trump’s border wall).

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.