Deadly Sins Backlash

Georgia's state prison population of nearly 50,000 is the nation's sixth largest and the fastest growing.

You’re going to have more people in prison than you do in the streets. Prison officials say laws like "seven deadly sins" and "three strikes you're out" are the main reasons for an overcrowding of the state prison system.

“We can see down the road that they're running out of space and they're going to have to put them some where. They're going to have to leave them in the county jails. So we will see it impacting us more in the next six months,” says Ashley Paulk, Lowndes County Sheriff.

Some judges say they often want to give lighter sentences to fit the crime, but they feel handcuffed by tough state laws. That's one adjustment some lawyers would like to see right away.

"The legislation needs to give the courts more leeway in sentencing because you can have the first time offender who has never done anything wrong their whole lives who commits one of the seven deadly sins will be put away for a long time," says Jody Petterman, a criminal defense attorney.

With only about two weeks left in Georgia's legislative session, prison officials say it's more than likely the laws won't be adjusted, but until it's changed, judges say they will continue to feel handcuffed.

There are nearly 5,000 convicted criminals waiting in county jails for space to open up in state prisons. Of that number, more than 20 state prisoners wait in the Lowndes County Jail.