FAU Georgia State Chapter

Georgia State is 30.5% African American

African Americans in Georgia, according to the 2010 US census, number 2,950,435. They account for 30.5 percent of the state’s population, and 7.6 percent of the nation’s African Americans. The state, which has often been dubbed as “The Black Mecca”, is the birth and burial place of civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. Georgia’s African American population traces its origins from slaves brought there from West Africa between 1750 and 1810.  In the decade leading up to 2010, the African American population had increased in Georgia by 579,335. This is due to more opportunities for both low and high skilled jobs. Nonetheless, poverty levels are still a problem for African Americans in the state. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study in 2014, African Americans rank second among ethnic groups in the state after Hispanics with 26 percent living below the poverty level.

Historically, about half of Georgia’s population was composed of African Americans who, before the Civil War, were almost exclusively enslaved. The Great Migration of hundreds of thousands of blacks from the rural South to the industrial North from 1914–70 reduced the African American population. Wealthy rice planters in Georgia relied on West African slaves to grow their rice for export.

The state’s capital city, Atlanta, is where Booker T. Washington delivered his famous “Atlanta Compromise” speech on September 18th, 1895.

According to the 2010 United States Census, Georgia had a population of 9,687,653. In terms of race and ethnicity, the state was 59.7% White (55.9% Non-Hispanic White Alone), 30.5% Black or African American, 0.3% American Indian and Alaska Native, 3.2% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 4.0% from Some Other Race, and 2.1% from Two or More Races. Hispanics and Latinos of any race made up 8.8% of the population.  As of 2011, 58.8% of Georgia’s population younger than age 1 were minorities (meaning that they had at least one parent who was not non-Hispanic white) compared to other states like California with 75.1%, New York with 55.6%, and Texas with 69.8%.

Populations indicated above are the latest 2015 estimates from the US Census Bureau. In 2012, voters in Macon and Bibb County approved the consolidation of the city of Macon and unincorporated Bibb County, and they officially merged on January 1, 2014. Macon joined Columbus, Augusta, and Athens as consolidated cities in Georgia.

The U.S. Census Bureau lists fourteen metropolitan areas in Georgia. The largest, Atlanta, is the ninth most populous metro area in the United States.

The state government of Georgia is the U.S. state governmental body established by the Georgia State Constitution. It is a republican form of government with three branches: the legislature, executive, and judiciary. The seat of government for Georgia is located in Atlanta.

John Nathan Deal (born August 25, 1942) is an American politician who is the 82nd Governor of Georgia and has held office since January 2011. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1992, but switched to the Republican Party in 1995. On March 1, 2010, Deal announced his resignation from Congress to run for governor of Georgia.  Deal won his re-election campaign for governor in 2014.

Criminal Justice Reform[edit]

In 2011, Georgia was in the midst of a criminal justice crisis. The prison population had doubled in the past two decades to 56,000, along with the state’s incarceration budget. The recidivism rate was 30 percent for adults and 65 percent for juveniles. In response, Deal commissioned the Georgia Criminal Justice Reform Council, tasked with performing an exhaustive review of the state’s current system, identifying key areas of focus and providing recommendations for reforms.[36] These areas included increased funding and support for accountability courts, overhauling the juvenile justice system, and implementing prisoner re-entry initiatives. The Council’s work resulted in bipartisan legislation that is paying dividends. Through these efforts, Georgia has avoided the need for 5,000 additional prison beds over 5 years and saved taxpayers at least $264 million.[37] A 2014 study showed that “prison sentences imposed on African-American offenders have dropped by 20 percent.

On April 25, 2013 Governor Deal signed HB 349 into law, which enacted a second round of criminal justice reforms. These reforms took a “smart on crime” approach and were based on recommendations from the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform. This law gave those who, while locked up, have earned money toward college in the form of a HOPE Scholarship G-E-D Voucher the ability to use that money up to two years after their release.[39] In addition, Gov. Deal reinvested $5M to create a voluntary grant program that gives communities incentives to offer judges more non-confinement sentencing options. These could include substance abuse treatment or family counseling. These methods have been proven to better reduce recidivism for low-risk offenders.

With the help of the Council and the Vera Institute of Justice, Gov. Deal has developed extensive performance measures to track the success of previous reform to ensure they are enhancing public safety and saving taxpayer dollars. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported, “Since 2007 alone, more than three-dozen such courts have opened their doors across Georgia. In the first quarter of 2014, more than 4,100 offenders were enrolled in the state’s 105 accountability courts, and many of these participants would likely be in prison without this alternative.”[38]

In regards to the final step of criminal justice reform, re-entry, Governor Deal went a step further. On April 25, 2014 Governor Deal announced the creation of the Governor’s Interfaith Council, composed of religious leaders across Georgia, to expand upon recent criminal justice reforms. These programs and council advisors will implement cost-effective strategies will work to increase the number of former offenders returning to the workforce and supporting their families.[40] By removing barriers to employment, housing and education for rehabilitated offenders, a larger number of returning citizens are able to rejoin the workforce and support their families. Some of Deal’s initiatives include education and jobs training programs, “banning the box” and creation of the Department of Community Supervision, which streamlines re-entry programs across various state agencies.

There are several departments, agencies and other entities within the government, including the: