ATLANTA - An overhaul of Georgia's juvenile justice system has cleared its first legislative hurdle.
The proposal is intended to place nonviolent youth offenders into community based programs that treat root causes of crimes rather than putting them behind bars.
The Georgia House Judiciary Committee made several dozen changes to the details of the bill Tuesday, but didn't alter the general outline.
Chairman Wendell Willard says the latest version has the backing from state and local agencies, including Georgia's district attorneys association. Youth advocates also are pushing the measure. And Gov. Nathan Deal has included money in his 2014 budget proposal to help expand the community programs.
Georgia spends more than $90,000 per year on each youthful offender behind bars. About 65 percent who are released end up back in jail.