Criminal Justice

Deadline day for Kemp to sign, veto or ignore bills passed in 2020 session

BY: and - August 4, 2020

Wednesday is the last day for Gov. Brian Kemp to decide whether to sign controversial legislation that gives police new protections against bias crimes and empowers officers to sue those who file a false complaint against them. Speculation over whether the governor would sign the bill into law has swirled since late June when lawmakers […]

Support grows for changes to citizen’s arrest law, if not outright repeal

BY: - July 23, 2020

State lawmakers who are reviewing Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law said they could soon reach common ground on whether to repeal or just revise the law.  The Civil War-era law has captured the public’s attention since it was cited by a prosecutor as justification for the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black jogger who was […]

Ahmaud Arbery’s mom implores court not to release man who filmed killing

BY: - July 17, 2020

The mother of Ahmaud Arbery on Friday implored a judge not to release the man who filmed the killing of her son, saying he remains unrepentant, dangerous and unapologetic six months after her son was killed. “What is to stop him from doing this again?” Wanda Cooper-Jones said. The emotional victim impact statement came in […]

Lawsuit charges PSC at-large elections unfair to Black voters

BY: - July 15, 2020

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday aims to change how commissioners who regulate Georgia public utilities are elected because, it claims, the statewide campaign system is stacked against Black voters, leaving their interests unprotected in rate cases for phone service, electricity and other utilities. The Public Service Commission now includes five white Republicans, and only one […]

Advocates ask lawmakers to end ‘archaic’ citizen’s arrest law

BY: - July 14, 2020

Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law drew withering criticism Monday from civil rights advocates who called for a House legislative committee to push for a repeal of an antiquated and dangerous law rooted in racism that dates to its use to detain suspected escaped slaves. The law captured the attention of many lawmakers and the public after […]

Ga. House hearings begin to consider changes to citizen’s arrest law

BY: - July 13, 2020

State lawmakers today are set to debate revising or repealing Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law as they examine how to avoid the type of vigilantism that resulted in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery earlier this year. Today is the first of a series of meetings this month to give legislators a chance to hear from law […]

Citizen’s arrest law, unfinished police reforms await 2021 Ga. Legislature

BY: - July 6, 2020

Georgia lawmakers returned to the Capitol in mid-June in a state transformed not only by the COVID-19 pandemic that prompted them to suspend the 2020 legislative session, but by a growing movement that some days arrived just outside the building as protesters pushed to reform or defund police departments. The videotaped death of George Floyd […]


First Amendment rights spark justice and seed change in Georgia

BY: - July 1, 2020

Georgia’s new hate crimes law is welcome and long overdue. But as the headlines marked this historic moment last week, I kept thinking about what finally forced change in Georgia. The shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery and the subsequent delay of justice were just too horrifying to ignore. That injustice was brought to light and […]

Georgia bill to protect police might weaken penalties for killing officer

BY: - June 30, 2020

Legislation state lawmakers intended to add protection for law enforcement might create the unintended result of lessening penalties if an officer is murdered. Gov. Brian Kemp’s office is analyzing House Bill 838, a controversial piece of legislation that passed in the final days of the session as part of a compromise to get a Georgia […]

Lawmakers OK bill intended to make ‘revolving door’ jail bonds transparent

BY: - June 26, 2020

State lawmakers Friday sent legislation to the governor’s desk intended to force judges to make a clear call whether to force accused criminals to put down collateral to get out of jail or to simply release them trusting that they’ll show up in court. Supporters say it’s about government transparency and keeping Georgians safe, but […]

McBath, GOP House colleagues stake out corners in sweeping police reform

BY: - June 26, 2020

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House passed a sweeping police reform package Thursday night in response to massive civil unrest over police brutality. The package cleared the chamber almost entirely along partisan lines, with Georgia Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath of Marietta and GOP Rep Barry Loudermilk staking out the opposing concepts of police reform. McBath spoke […]

Bill to allow people to restrict access to criminal records clears Legislature

BY: - June 25, 2020

This post was updated at 9 a.m. June 26 to remove an incorrect percentage of working age Georgians with a criminal record. The Douglasville offices of nonprofit Justice Advocate Restorative Services are closed for the pandemic, but Kenneth Howell’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing.  “We’ve been getting a lot of phone calls,” Howell said. “A lot […]