DeKalb settles lawsuit over jailing of poor defendants

By Carrie Teegardin - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

DeKalb County has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit accusing it of improperly jailing poor people who couldn’t afford misdemeanor probation plans at Recorder’s Court.

The settlement comes as DeKalb County is restructuring its courts as required under new legislation that eliminates its Recorder’s Court and transfers its traffic cases to DeKalb County State Court.

Thompson v DeKalb County

On January 29, 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Georgia filed a federal lawsuit challenging debt collection practices that have resulted in the jailing of people simply because they are poor. The case was brought on behalf of Kevin Thompson, a black teenager in DeKalb County, Georgia, who was jailed because he could not afford to pay court fines and probation company fees stemming from a traffic ticket. 

The ACLU charged that DeKalb County and the for-profit company Judicial Correction Services, Inc. (JCS) teamed up to engage in a coercive debt collection scheme that focused on revenue generation at the expense of protecting poor people's rights.

OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM ACLU-GA ON CHAMBLEE SHOOTING

The ACLU-GA would like to extend our condolences to the family and friends of Anthony Hill. Unfortunately this case is not an isolated incident. Far too many Americans who have mental disabilities die every year in police encounters, and many more are seriously injured. People of color with disabilities are disproportionately affected. At this time we join the Atlanta Police Chief in noting the importance of increased training for police on excessive use of force, especially in regards to interactions with people with mental disabilities.

Georgia: Enact Reform Bill on For-Profit Probation

Would Impose Transparency, Curb Abuse, Protect Rights of Poor

A bill passed today by Georgia’s House of Representatives includes important and far-reaching reforms of the state’s abuse-ridden for-profit probation industry, Human Rights Watch, the national American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia (ACLU of GA) said today.  The bill will next be considered by the state Senate.

House Bill 310’s provisions on private probation represent months of hard work by Governor Nathan Deal’s Criminal Justice Reform Council to address what its co-chair has called the “moral imperative” to deal with the “inequities and abuses” of the state’s for-profit probation industry.

My Experiences at the CCA Operated Stewart Detention Center #ShutDownStewart #ExposeandClose

Detention Watch Network

Eduardo Zuniga

I was shocked and appalled to read the December 9, 2014 op-ed, “Report of nightmarish detention untrue,” by Rev. Joseph Shields of Stewart in response to the article “Living Nightmare for Detained Immigrants in Georgia” by Azadeh Shahshahani.  The picture painted of this prison by Rev. Shields, an employee of the Corrections Corporation of America, bears no resemblance to my experience at Stewart.

I was detained at Stewart from January to June 2011.  I crushed my toe and twisted my leg while working in the Stewart Detention Center’s kitchen for sub-minimum wages, and both injuries were undertreated.

Immigration enforcement program to be replaced in jails nationwide

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By Jeremy Redmon

For years, immigrant rights activists have fought to shut down a controversial immigration enforcement program operating in jails in Georgia and across the nation.

Started during the George W. Bush administration, the Secure Communities program works by comparing inmates’ fingerprints against immigration records in federal databases. Supporters say the program has substantially curbed illegal immigration. Critics say it ensnares low-level offenders with families and deep roots in the U.S.

Previously Unreleased Data Shows Prejudice Not Public Safety in Georgia's Hyper Enforcement of Immigration Law

FOIA Suit Results in Telling Picture of Local Law Enforcement's Involvement in Federal Policies

What: Press Conference Releasing New Study "Prejudice, Policing, and Public Safety"
Where:180 Spring Street SW
When: 11:00am, Thursday July 31st, 2014
Who: Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, ACLU of Georgia, and Georgia #Not1More Campaign

On Thursday morning, advocates will release a new study analyzing data received as a result of a FOIA lawsuit with ICE that outlines for the first time the practice and impact of local immigration enforcement efforts that grew under federal programs and the state law passed in 2011.

Families victimized by unjust deportation policy will speak out as part of the Georgia #Not1More campaign seeking to move Dekalb and Fulton Counties to join more than 130 jurisdictions nationwide in rejecting the ICE hold requests to keep people in extended detention due to its negative impact on public safety and constitutional violations.

The report will be made available at the press conference.

Sensible Policy, Not Smaller Handcuffs

By Nicole Kief, ACLU & Jennifer Bellamy, Washington Legislative Office

You may have heard recently about Dontadrian Bruce, the Mississippi high-school student who was almost expelled for holding up the number "3" with his fingers in a photo taken by his science teacher. Dontradian is number 3 on the football team – and despite his being an A/B student with no history of serious disciplinary problems, the school said he was making a gang sign.

This isn't the first time the school district has been quick to label a Black student a "gang member." And in fact the unnecessarily harsh treatment of students of color for misbehavior—or perceived misbehavior—at school is a huge problem across the country. Too many young people are being pushed out of school and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems instead of given the chance to learn from their mistakes. This phenomenon is frequently referred to as the school-to-prison-pipeline.

The Dream Will Never Die - Strategies to End the New Jim Crow

The primary mission of this Conference is to continue the building of a broad based Coalition that will develop strategies collectively on the approaches necessary to END the New Jim Crow in Georgia & the United States. Becoming increasingly organized locally will contribute more to the growing national movement to STOP MASS INCARCERATION.

The ACLU of Georgia seeking a Congressional investigation of two of the worst immigration detention facilities in the country

The ACLU of Georgia has been joined by dozens of other local and national groups in seeking a Congressional investigation of two of the worst immigration detention facilities in the country, Stewart and the Irwin County Detention Center. This request comes in the face of inaction of ICE to recommendations in our May 2012 report, “Prisoners of Profit: Immigrants and Detention in Georgia.” You can find the letter to the Georgia Congressional delegation here.