When I first started, I did not understand why GJP did not take criminal cases outside of Fulton and DeKalb counties. But now I realize it is impossible to help everyone in those two counties. Dealing with intake daily, I have found GJP is a specific organization and there are still plenty of citizens out there who cannot find adequate representation. Many bizarre domestic violence cases put innocent men behind bars. Also, after conviction, there are no firms in Georgia that deal with assisting men trying to get out of jail on parole. GJP has been a great experience, but dealing with the people who come in everyday, it is shocking to find out how many people do not have a chance.
So many go to courts after sitting in jail for 6 months, then plead guilty, pay a fine, and have no idea they are now a convicted felon. I think GJP is amazing, because it gives the indigent a chance. But, I think one of the best ways to help so many of these people, is to spread as much knowledge as possible. Even if GJP cannot help everyone, if a man goes in front of a judge with a basic understanding of his rights, he has that much better of a chance. Most charges people face are nonviolent, drug charges.
If these people understand that they do not have to consent to a search, there would be fewer arrests. GJP can save many lives, but knowledge can do so much more. I do not know how this can be done, but this is not just a problem in neighborhoods in downtown Atlanta. This seems to be a common problem in many other places as well. I think there is a perception out there that all people know they have certain rights. But dealing with some of the potential clients who I have met, that perception is not reality.
– Barrett, Rising Senior, University of Georgia