2018 Lt. Governor’s Race

Below is a comparison of what the two major party candidates for lieutenant governor have stated about reforming Georgia’s criminal justice system, ending mass incarceration, and eliminating racial disparities. 


Sarah Riggs Amico

Sarah Riggs Amico (D)

 
Geoff Duncan

Geoff Duncan (R)


Position of ACLU of GA:   Support   Oppose

 

Recently, Georgia’s imprisonment rate has seen a relative decline as a result of Governor Nathan Deal’s criminal justice reform efforts over the past 5 years. As Lt. Governor, will you support the recommendations of the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform and advocate for further reform?

RIGGS AMICO

Yes. Governor Deal's efforts at criminal justice reform were a step in the right direction, including allowing judges to impose community service in lieu of bail, sentencing reform, promoting in home treatment options, and improved probation services. But we should go further especially in following through on the recommendations of his Council on Criminal Justice Reform including greater access to mental health care, limiting cash bail, and promoting community policing programs.

DUNCAN

Failed to respond.

 

In 2016, Georgia’s prison population was fourth largest in the nation costing Georgia taxpayers over $1 billion a year. As Lt. Governor, will you support alternatives to incarceration and policies that reduce the state’s jail and prison population to cut costs and lower taxes? [Source: Bureau of Justice, Correctional Populations in the United States, 2016.]

RIGGS AMICO

Yes. We need greater alternatives to prison. Diversionary programs should be increased for juvenile and non-violent offenders. As you point out this will result in a smaller incarcerated population as well as fiscal savings. But moreover, this will allow community members to remain connected with their communities and support networks so they all can take part in the restorative and rehabilitative process.

DUNCAN

Failed to respond.

 

As Lt. Governor, will you champion measures that reduce or eliminate some mandatory minimum sentences?

RIGGS AMICO

Yes. Mandatory minimum force prosecutors and judges to dispense disproportionate sentences while doing little to curb crime rates. We should bring back a judge's ability to use discretion so that more people are afforded the chance to turn their lives around and become productive members of society. In order to better lower crime rates we should focus on increasing the likelihood of arrest and prosecution for crimes rather than the severity of punishment as that has been proven to lower crime rates.

DUNCAN

Failed to respond.

 

Georgia ranks first in the nation in correctional control rate, with parole and probation violations accounting for an estimated two-thirds of all prison admissions. As Lt. Governor, will you champion shortening probation periods and/or removing probation altogether for certain offenses to reduce the costs of lengthy correctional control? [Source: Report of the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform, February 2017.]

RIGGS AMICO

Yes. I am willing to look at any policies that result in healthier Georgia communities. I think that probation can be an advantage over prison and jail, but also acknowledge that it can certainly be overused and abused. The right balance of parole and probation would create a system of lower crime and lower prison populations.

DUNCAN

Failed to respond.

 

As Lt. Governor, will you champion measures to restore voting rights of formerly incarcerated persons upon release from prison?

RIGGS AMICO

Yes. I believe that after they have paid their debt to society, the formerly incarcerated should again be allowed to vote. They remain citizens and should be expected to contribute to society in meaningful ways. This includes participating in civic life and voting.

DUNCAN

Failed to respond.

 

As Lt. Governor, will you fight for a redistricting process that is fair, free of partisan considerations and fully transparent? *

RIGGS AMICO

Yes. This issue is integral to our democracy. Voters should select their representatives, not the other way around. In order to reduce partisan gerrymandering, I am open to an all of the above strategy: Independent commissions, algorithmic methods, and court challenges, all could be used to ensure that representation in Georgia is fair across the population. Increasing voters' belief that their elected officials are truly representative of their constituencies will not only bolster confidence in our elections, it will likely also encourage more voters to turn out at the ballot box. And knowledgeable and engaged citizens will help the elected representatives of Georgia shape a more prosperous and growing Georgia.

DUNCAN

Failed to respond.

 

Georgia taxpayers pay millions of dollars per year on pretrial detention. People who have not been convicted are being detained largely because they are too poor to afford bail. As Lt. Governor, will you support eliminating cash bail for certain offenses?

RIGGS AMICO

Yes. I believe that the use of cash bail disproportionately affects the poor, unnecessarily separates people form their communities and family, and has been abused by prosecutors to increase their conviction rate. As such we should eliminate cash bail for offenses where we deem the accused not to be a risk to public safety.

DUNCAN

Failed to respond.

 

As Lt. Governor, will you support measures to permit cultivation and access of marijuana for medical purposes?

RIGGS AMICO

Yes. I believe that there is promising research on marijuana's ability to treat those who suffer from seizures as well as some preliminary findings around pain and opiate addiction that demonstrate marijuana's usefulness as a medicine. I believe cultivation in Georgia makes sense under this medical categorization.

DUNCAN

Failed to respond.

 

In 2017, nineteen percent of all drug-related prison admissions in Georgia were for marijuana offenses. In your capacity as Lt. Governor, will you support legislation that would decriminalize marijuana possession? [Source: Georgia Department of Corrections, Inmates Admitted During CY2017.]

RIGGS AMICO

Yes. I think that possession of small amounts of marijuana should be decriminalized. By doing so we can lower our prison populations, save taxpayer dollars, increase police focus on more serious crime, and begin closing the racial gap in drug arrests. That is why I support decriminalization.

DUNCAN

Failed to respond.