FEBRUARY 28, 2013
ATLANTA – Approximately 34% of prisoners in Georgia are re-incarcerated after facing significant barriers to successfully re-entering society. On October 31, 2012, a diverse panel was assembled to speak with Georgia State University College of Law students in Professor Courtney Anderson’s Law and Social Welfare class about the compounding effects of the criminal justice system on Atlanta’s impoverished population.
Daryl Queen, an assistant public defender with the DeKalb County Public Defender's Office, has represented numerous clients for close to a decade. Queen spoke of the trouble his clients have with successfully completing rehabilitation and probation due to costs and fees imposed on ex-offenders. A number of his defendants find themselves in court soon after release due to inability to pay costs and fees ranging from ankle bracelets and fines to child support and drug-testing fees.
Erin Anderson, housing coordinator for the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, described the roadblocks that low-income individuals with criminal records face in obtaining and the limited government resources available. She shared how she successfully connects ex-offenders with housing, despite the reluctance often expressed by landlords and property owners.
Tamara Rorie, a technology licensing associate at Georgia Tech, spoke of her role as a founder of Providing Real Opportunities for Income through Technology (PROFITT), a program that trains soon-to-be-released offenders braille transcription, computer skills and business techniques. Rorie expressed how difficult it is for ex-offenders to find gainful employment. Developing an expertise in the niche industry of braille has helped these individuals find careers, and Rorie plans to extend the successful program to closed-captioning. She spoke highly of the work ethic instilled in the ex-offenders she has worked with and hoped that the network of employers embracing her attitude toward this population would expand.
“Ex-offenders who lack financial resources are likely to continue to face obstacles when re-entering society, placing them at higher risk for recidivism,” said Professor Anderson. “We are appreciative of the panelists for speaking to our class and for bringing awareness of this issue to future attorneys who may have the opportunity to create and implement solutions to this problem.”
Erin Anderson emphasized the need for attorneys to have compassion. “People who work with the population need to interact and have training with how to deal with these social issues,” she stated.
Stacie P. Kershner, JD
Associate Director, Center for Law, Health & Society