Deal signed the measure Friday in Hall County's drug court, saying it would help save taxpayer dollars while finding better ways to rehabilitate offenders.
The 13-member commission would have to report its findings by early 2012, in time for lawmakers to act on them in the next legislative session. The members would be selected by the governor, the lieutenant governor and the House speaker.
Deal said he supports alternative sentencing for certain nonviolent offenders, like drug addicts. He said "our entire society benefits if we can turn these tax burdens into taxpayers."