My internship this summer with Georgia Justice Project was a wonderful experience that shed light on the dire need for criminal justice reforms in America. My day-to-day work included attending court and client meetings, as well as researching and drafting memorandums. I also had unique opportunities such as having lunch with Supreme Court of Georgia Justice Harold D. Melton, attending policy meetings led by Judge Michael P. Boggs, and visiting a client in a Georgia state prison, which allowed me to have a well-rounded introduction to Georgia’s complex legal system.
This summer, I researched and drafted a policy brief on the mug shot removal industry in Georgia. I learned how mug shot websites profit by destroying people’s professional and private lives by merely posting evidence of arrest. Working with our policy director, I was also able to attend meetings of the criminal justice reform council regarding Georgia’s First Offender Act. I witnessed presentations by clerks, judges, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and Georgia Justice Project’s own policy director on how Georgia’s First Offender Act is implemented and the shortcomings of the legislation.
My favorite work was meeting with clients and listening to how their lives are affected by their pending case. Simply having a pending case can be grounds for denying employment or housing, which can have a downward spiral effect on one’s economic status, mental status, and personal relationships. Through my hands on experience, I became re-motivated and re-energized to pursue a career in public interest. This summer I witnessed how a career in public interest can serve others and truly make a difference. I also witnessed the joy and happiness a defendant feels when they receive a positive disposition in their case. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have worked at Georgia Justice Project this summer.