Georgia Justice Project strengthens our community by demonstrating a better way to represent and support individuals in the criminal justice system and reduce barriers to reentry. GJP promotes innovative change through direct legal representation, policy advocacy, education and coalition building.
What We Do
GJP has served low income people in Georgia who have been affected by the criminal justice system for 35 years. GJP’s range of direct services include holistic criminal defense paired with social service support, as well as representation for criminal records issues, all provided free of charge. GJP has helped to pass 20 Georgia laws reducing barriers to reentry for Georgians. GJP believes in second chances after an arrest, and works to reduce the number of Georgians under correctional control.
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).
GJP offers holistic, high quality legal services free of charge for low income Georgians impacted by the criminal justice system. Our services include:
- Holistic Criminal Defense: GJP provides a combination of legal representation and comprehensive social services, often lasting long after the case is resolved.
- Criminal Records: GJP provides criminal records representation to remove barriers to employment, housing and other
opportunities. We lead Record Restriction Summits statewide.
- Prison Support/Reentry Lawyering: GJP provides a wide array of reentry services to ensure that our clients receive the help they need during and after incarceration to successfully reenter their communities.
- Policy: GJP has successfully advocated for 20 changes in Georgia law,
reducing barriers to reentry for millions of Georgians.
Track Record for Impact
Through its delivery of holistic services coupled with policy change, GJP demonstrates the following results that support economic stability:
- Legislative success. GJP has successfully worked with the state legislature on laws to reduce barriers to reentry for the 3.8 million Georgians with a criminal history.
- 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 $21,000 each year. Even diversionary courts – like drug courts – are more costly: $5,200.
Together, these outcomes help lift Georgia’s criminally accused out of poverty.
GJP’s Core Competencies
- 35 years of experience in criminal justice reform.
- 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. Recipient of Elbert P. Tuttle Award from the Anti-Defamation League.