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Georgia Criminal Justice Programs

If you’re considering a career in criminal justice, Georgia is an exciting place to be. The state has invested in an overhaul of its criminal justice system in the last five years, with reforms to rehabilitation, prisoner management, and prosecution systems.

All this change means more and diversified employment opportunities for lawyers, probation officers, paralegals, police officers, and others, and there are a host of degree and specialization programs to meet the rise in demand. Below we walk you through the best criminal justice degree programs in the state and provide resources for launching your career in criminal justice.

Criminal Justice Careers in Georgia

The criminal justice system is comprised of federal and state-run government institutions and agencies responsible for upholding and enforcing our laws. There are three major branches within the criminal justice system: law enforcement, the courts, and corrections.

In law enforcement, you’ll be tasked with protecting the public and investigating crimes. If you work in the courts, you’ll be involved in the process of determining guilt or innocence and establishing sentences.  In corrections, you’ll work with those who are incarcerated or have been recently released.

Law Enforcement

Those working in local or federal law enforcement agencies are charged with protecting and serving their community through patrolling, enforcement, and emergency response. Law enforcement professionals pursue suspected offenders, gather evidence, and make arrests.

Police officers, detectives, and crime scene investigators are just a few of the many law enforcement jobs available. Law enforcement employees often work on the streets, although some jobs — like detective — may involve more investigative work and research in an office setting. If you’re good at dealing with people, like to investigate and find answers, and are detail-oriented, a career in law enforcement could be a good fit for you.

Career Career Outlook Annual Median Salary
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers  11%  $42,070
Private Detectives and Investigators  10%  $47,500

All data from O*Net

The Courts

People working within the court system help to ensure accused criminals receive a fair trial and that the law and court rules are upheld. Judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, paralegals, court reporters, and bailiffs all play a role in serving the criminal justice system through the courts.

Judges are primarily responsible for overseeing court proceedings and, in many cases, administering a verdict in a case. Defense attorneys and prosecutors build their cases with the help of paralegals, who prepare legal documents and assist in trial preparation.

Career Career Outlook Annual Median Salary
Paralegals and Legal Assistants  19%  $51,180
Lawyers  11%  $104,940

All data from O*Net

Corrections

Those employed in corrections work with convicted offenders during or after their sentences. They oversee transition plans for offenders entering or leaving a corrections facility to ensure their safety as well as the safety of the public.

Jailers, wardens, and probation officers all work directly with offenders in the corrections branch of the criminal justice system. While many corrections jobs involve working directly with prisoners, others focus on rehabilitation, education, and work programs.

Career Career Outlook Annual Median Salary
Correctional Officers and Jailers  -4%  $34,170
Probation Officers  9%  $41,840

All data from O*Net

Criminal Justice Education Resources in Georgia

If you’re interested in a career in law enforcement, corrections, or the court system, you’ll have a lot of options in Georgia.

While it’s not possible to capture every state resource, we’ve pulled together a list of the most popular job sites in Georgia to get you started. These state agencies provide job postings, application instructions, pay and benefits information, and information about training and exam requirements.

  • Corrections: Georgia Department of Corrections
    Careers include corrections officer, supervisor, and field training officer.
    Has information about qualifications, pay and benefits, and training opportunities for applicants and current employees.
  • Juvenile corrections: Department of Juvenile Justice
    Careers include corrections officer, counselor, psychologist, instructor, probation officer, and supervisor.
    Has information about types of careers, job fairs and events, salaries, and benefits.
  • Police officers: Georgia Department of Public Safety
    Careers include police officer, cadet, and state patrol officer.
    Provides steps for becoming a police officer or highway patrol officer in Georgia.
  • Justice system: Office of the Attorney General
    Careers include deputy attorney general, criminalist, crime analyst, and paralegal.
    Discusses how to apply for a job in the Georgia Department of Justice and lists job vacancies and application forms.

Innovations in Criminal Justice in Georgia

In 2013, Georgia had one of the highest incarceration rates in the country and lawmakers created the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform (Bill HB 349) to conduct a comprehensive review of state practices to make improvements in critical areas like sentencing laws, adult correctional issues, juvenile justice issues, and better management of the prison population.

Several reforms came out of this work that are today governed by the new Department of Community Supervision, including additional funding and programs for reentry, as well as increased parole and probation supervision. If you’re entering the criminal justice field in Georgia today, these changes will likely affect your work with offenders, victims, and their families:

  • Drug Court: Drug court is a 24-month program that offers parole in lieu of prison time and gives treatment and rehabilitation services for those with drug and alcohol dependencies. Graduates are either placed on probation or are eligible to have their charges dismissed.
  • The First Offender Act: Also known as the ‘second chance law,’ this Georgia law was created to offer nonviolent, first-time offenders a chance to reintegrate and obtain employment without a criminal conviction on their records. Eligible offenders can receive jail time or probation, but their records receive a ‘First Offender Act’ notation rather than a record of ‘convicted criminal,’ which can make it easier for offenders to find work after serving their time.
  • Juvenile Justice Reform: The 2013 bill mandates that only the most violent juvenile offenders serve jail time, with juveniles committing nonviolent crimes and minor offenses receiving community-based rehabilitation instead.

As you’re beginning your career in the Georgia criminal justice system, you may want to consider how these recent reforms will impact available jobs, funding, and areas of focus. For example, the emphasis on community-based rehabilitation instead of incarceration is likely to mean more jobs for probation officers and counselors and fewer jobs for correctional officers.

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Main Criminal Justice Governmental Agencies and Entities in Georgia

  • Administrative Office of the Courts: This agency provides support to the courts, including the hiring of court reporters and other administrative staff. It also publishes information about the courts and works with the legislature to secure judicial appropriations.
  • Council of Juvenile Court Judges of Georgia: This council of judges oversees the juvenile courts and protects the best interest of juvenile offenders in the state.
  • Court of Appeals of Georgia: Comprised of 15 lawyers in five divisions, the court of appeals is the intermediate appellate court in Georgia and handles all appellate cases except those involving murder, constitutional questions, or habeas corpus, which are controlled by the Supreme Court.
  • Georgia Department of Corrections: This agency oversees the corrections system in Georgia, including over 52,000 state prisoners. It employs more than 10,000 workers, including corrections officers, parole officers, and counselors.
  • United States Department of Justice, Georgia: The DOJ office in Georgia enforces federal law in Georgia and represents the government in federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts.
  • Georgia Department of Law: This agency protects consumers and businesses from unlawful, deceptive, and unfair practices in the marketplace. It represents the public rather than the individual. In addition to investigating and enforcing the law, it publishes consumer alerts and educational materials.
  • State Board of Pardons and Paroles: This five-member parole board grants paroles, pardons, reprieves, remissions, and commutations.

Resources for Criminal Justice Students and Professionals in Georgia

If you’re a student or just getting started in a career in criminal justice, there are a host of state associations and organizations that can help you connect with other professionals and network with potential employers.

  • Criminal Justice Association of Georgia: This membership-based organization is for students, professionals, and faculty in the criminal justice field. They hold conferences and events and publish educational materials for academic and professional advancement.
  • Criminal Justice Student Association at Georgia State University: This student-run group connects with faculty, professionals, and the wider community to promote awareness and understanding of criminal justice issues. Members enjoy on-campus events, student networking, and professional networking with local agencies.
  • Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police: Since 1962, this organization has been committed to building professional relationships, evaluating policing standards, and offering training and education to police executives.
  • Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers: Comprised criminal defense lawyers, law school students, and full-time criminal investigators, this membership-funded association has a mission to promote justice through education, public awareness, and support services.
  • Georgia Association of Paralegals: GAP supports paralegals and aspiring paralegals with regular networking and events, as well as serving the broader community by offering community outreach and pro bono services.
  • Peace Officers Association of Georgia: Supports police officers in Georgia through training, assistance programs, scholarships, education, and an annual conference

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