Georgia Justice Project (GJP) breaks the cycle of poverty by defending the indigent criminally accused and, win or lose, standing with them as they rebuild their lives.
With over 25 years of experience, GJP has developed a comprehensive suite of services, coupling holistic legal defense and social services with advocacy support, to address the barriers to economic stability faced by the criminally accused.
Who We Serve
GJP serves the lowest-wealth members of our community who are also at the highest risk for criminal involvement. Our clients are between the ages of 14 and 58 – with more than half between age 17 and 25. 65% are male, and most live in the City of Atlanta (55%) and neighboring DeKalb County (35%). Read our client stories HERE.
Statement of Need
Unemployment, poverty and crime are inextricably linked:
- 90% of those in the criminal justice system live below the poverty line.
- Nearly 600,000 inmates arrive annually on the doorsteps of communities nationwide with virtually no system to help integrate them.
- The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world.
- The racial disparities of who is incarcerated are profound. 39% of the US prison population is African-American (but only 12.9% of the US population).
- We do our work in the area of the country where the need is greatest: The South has the highest incarceration rate in the US and in Georgia, 61.6% of the prison population is African-American (they make up 31.5% of the state’s population).
Opportunity For Social Impact
GJP offers highly effective, proven programs that overcome criminal barriers to economic stability:
- Holistic Indigent Criminal Defense: Provide comprehensive legal defense and social services to indigent persons.
- Coming Home: Provide criminal record expungement and other advocacy services to minimize consequences of a record.
- Collateral Consequences Advocacy: Target policy change to minimize impact of criminal records
- Systemic Change: Influence the legal practice, replicate successful service models starting in Georgia and expand policy impact regionally and nationally
Track Record for Impact
Through its delivery of holistic services coupled with policy change, GJP demonstrates the following results that support economic stability:
- First-rate legal defense. Fewer than 5% of GJP clients receive further time in jail or prison. The nationwide rate is over 70%.
- Cost effective. GJP serves clients for less than $3000 per person. In Georgia, the cost to incarcerate someone is $18,000 each year. Even diversionary courts – like drug courts – are more costly: $5,200.
- Legislative success. GJP redrafted the state’s expungement statute, reducing barriers to jobs or housing for those not convicted of a crime.
Together, these outcomes help lift Georgia’s criminally accused out of poverty.
GJP’s Core Competencies
- Over 25 years of experience in criminal justice.
- Strong community, legislative and judicial system trust. Advisory Board includes two former Chief Justices of the Georgia Supreme Court.
- Partnerships with law schools in Atlanta, Georgia, and around the country including Mercer and Fordham.
- Nationally recognized for innovation and impact. Winner Annie E. Casey Families Count Award; included in 2012 edition of Forces for Good
- Experienced and passionate leadership. Recent recipient of Elbert P. Tuttle Award from the Anti-Defamation League.