By: Charles Campbell
Today’s criminal justice landscape is pockmarked by skyrocketing correctional costs and unsustainable levels of incarcerations in the United States. Clearly, this has had a disparate impact on certain groups. This trend of mass incarceration stems from the “mandatory minimums” and “three strikes” laws that have placed a premium on punishment. Now in the aftermath of these philosophies there is a growing movement to find some way of fixing the bloated correctional system. These efforts range from legislative attempts to salve such wounds by reducing minimum sentence retroactively to approaching the very idea of justice in a more humane way.
One method of attempting a better way forward can be found in the Southern reaches of the country in the Georgia Justice Project. The Georgia Justice Project started as the part time passion of a single lawyer, and has since blossomed into a holistic attempt to fix one small part of a broken system. This grand endeavor takes place in the Fulton and Dekalb counties in Georgia. It is there that the project has grown from just a criminal representation effort to include a number of social services and reentry support. The object of this approach is not to just address a client’s legal issues, but also to address the issues underlying the client’s unfortunate contact with the system. This relationship lasts not just through the individual’s scrape with the justice system, but well past that into the very lives of those they serve, including during any prison time received. From criminal defense and anger management classes to vocation training and education, the Georgia Justice project seeks to truly make whole, perhaps for the first time, those individuals who accept the commitment of becoming a client.
Georgia Justice project provides these services to clients at no direct cost, ensuring that these vital services are not out of reach to any who truly need them, while covering the costs through private donations. In short the Georgia Justice Project is a cool breeze flowing through a system that has for too long allowed the air to become stagnant behind cold prison walls, and serves as a beautiful example in stark contrast to the “nothing works” attitude that has lead the country to its current state.