End Mass Incarceration Georgia Network Reports on the 2023 Legislative Session and the Impact of Restorative Justice
The legislative session has ended, and bills have been passed. Pamela Perkins Carn is a co-covener of the End Mass Incarceration Georgia Network. This organization educates the community and advocates for a fresh look at restorative justice that serves the community, the offended, and those who have committed offenses.
According to the Southern Center for Human Rights, we live under a draconian justice system that has impacted one in eighteen adults in Georgia. Poverty has been criminalized, and the school-to-prison pipeline begins as early as preschool with the suspension of four-year-olds.
Perkins-Carn explains that The End Mass Incarceration Georgia Networkis an intentional association of faith communities, organizations, and individuals formed to effect positive change in youth and criminal justice. They believe that restorative justice should advocate for those affected by crime and incarceration as well as those harmed by crime. They also explain that to break the cycle of generational criminality. We must invest in schools and communities to ensure that citizens can succeed.
She shares that the organization focused on elevating youth justice during the past legislative session. EMI promoted our children's humanity. This was necessary due to the media narrative of the "dangerous children" label, which began in the early 1990s and continues today. Everyone deserves to feel safe, but if we invested in children's healthcare, education, and well-being, we'd have less reason to fear our children. Perkins-Carn says that legislation was passed to make it easier to roll back youth justice reforms that have shown positive results.
I asked Perkins-Carns to share the wins and losses for restorative justice work during the last legislative session. She shares that one of the biggest wins was the failure to pass SB 63, which would have criminalized poverty by mandating a cash or property bail for more than 30 additional crimes, including writing a bad check and misdemeanors like unlawful assembly.
A significant loss was the failure of the General Assembly to pass Raise the Age. This is an effort to treat 17-year-olds as children under the juvenile court's jurisdiction. Research shows that the human brain doesn't fully mature in the mid-twenties, but in Georgia, 17-year-olds are automatically treated as adults. The Sheriff's Association has continued to oppose this law.
Perkins-Carn speaks to the community's need to regularly engage with local, state, and federal elected officials. She explains that we don't have to wait until next year. She invites all community members to join their monthly meetings on the fourth Monday of every month from August-May. #ListenLearnAct