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The Calloway Criminal Justice Reform Summit; An Insightful, Thoughtful and Powerful Conversation towards Equality in Justice Reform

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Cedric Copper/GF Enterprise

A wholistic, Bi-partisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform in Georgia was held at the Fulton County Government Center in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday, September 7, 2019 hosted by the DEAL Project. Early arrivals were greeted and treated to unlimited Starbucks coffee and hot Krispy Kreme donuts as they awaited the conversation on the progress of criminal reform in Georgia. As attendees were scanned in, one by one, and registrars, Yul and Brenda Smith Anderson, confirmed those who had registered and checked in others, Fulton County SWAT Team stood carefully over and stood watch from floors above adding intensity to the atmosphere as district attorneys, judges, and other dignitaries arriving, such as former Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.

“Criminal Justice Reform in Georgia is desperately needed to address age-old social issues that are rooted in bigotry, racism, classism, and, believe it or not, uninformed and uneducated theology,” says Ambrose B King Jr who is organized the Summit and founded the D.E.A.L Project (Acronym for Distributing and Empowering Georgia Citizens’ Access to Legal Literacy) and named in honor of Georgia’s 82nd Governor. John Nathan Deal, Esq, who made it a personal mission to overhaul Georgia’s mass incarceration, probation, and Criminal Justice problem(s). King, influenced by Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow while a student at Morehouse College,  claims, “There has been a serious shift in Criminal Justice reform in Georgia and a lot of southern states who used the criminal justice system as a weapon of mass destruction against one group of people, it minorities. A criminal record, in most cases, limits one from ascending to a different tax bracket and keeps one from obtaining homes, jobs, and class that the majority enjoys — with or without a criminal background. We know that white men, having did time for white color crimes, can get out of prison and still get a well paying job from their friends.” King, who is a native of Tifton, Georgia and Atlanta socialite and activist, continued, “It was reported, in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, that if nothing changed in Georgia that two new prisons would’ve had to be built during Governor Deal’s tenure — costing the tax payers $264 million dollars…..because 1 in 13 of its citizens were on probation , locked up, or in prison.

Moreover, we have law libraries in prison but do not have law libraries or access to civil attorneys to help with civil proceedings, statewide. Yet, I’m from a rural Georgia town and rural Georgia have 0% access. Thus, I created the DEAL Project to join the fight to gain access.” 
The attendees gathered in Fulton County Government Center’s Legislative Assembly hall to listen to expert panelists who gave an informative and inspiring conversation. King opened up with a welcome and introduced members of the Calloway Family. Reverend Benjamin Callloway, father of the late Rev. Dr. Terrance Calloway for whom the Summit is named, gave the opening prayer, followed by an introduction of Panel Facilitator, Judge Cassandra Kirk, Chief Judge of Fulton County’s Magistrate Courts. Panelists included: Shermela J. WilliamsLitigator, Thompson, Kennedy, Sampson, Tompkins Law Firm, Clinton Rucker, Chief Asst. District Attorney, Fulton County, Joyette Holmes, District Attorney for Cobb County, Sherry Boston, District Attorney for Dekalb County, Kosha S. Tucker Staff Attorney for theAmerican Civil Liberties Union of Georgia (ACLU), Dar’shun Kendrick Attorney and State Representative’s Minority Caucus Chief Deputy Whip, Laura Hogue Attorney and President of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Erin H. Gerstenzang, Atlanta Civil and Criminal Defense Attorney,Marissa McCall DodsonAttorney and Public Policy Director, Southern Center for Human Rights, A’Sheika L. Penn, Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney DeKalb County District Juvenile Court Division, Steven Teske,Chief judge of the Juvenile Court of Clayton County, Eric S. Fisher, Partner Taylor-English’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution Department, L. Christopher Stewart, Civil and Rights and Criminal Defense Attorney with Stewart Trial Lawyers LLC, Rev. Justin E. Giboney, Civil Rights Attorney, Minister, and Founder of &(AND) Campaign, Ashleigh B. Merchant, Esq Criminal Defense Attorney and Partner for the Merchant Firm, Rebeca E. Salmonmanaging partner, A Salmon Firm, LLC and President of the Access to Law Foundation, Cheferre “Che” Young,Asst. District Attorney, Juvenile Divison Macon Judicial Circuit, Cheryl Payton,CCH/Identification Program Manager,  Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and Tracy Rolle, the Founder of AIME, LLC ,Inspiring Our Youth Corp. and Author on Recidivism and Rehabilitation.


As the panel discussion was underway, flanked by Fulton County PD and assistants, arrives Governor Deal who sits and listen the panel and was later acknowledged by Judge Teske, Sherry Boston, and Judge Kirk in their discussion. After the each the panelist’s final remarks, King introduced Deal and asked him to share words. Gov. Deal tell the audience that we must reform education. “Most of our juvenile and adults in prison now don’t have a high school diploma. We sought to change this and invited in Technical Colleges and other Secondary education institutions to allow prisoners to further their education through correspondence and hands-on courses and curriculum.”
Also featured were an area of Community Resources made up of nonprofit and civic organizations designed to assist the formerly incarcerated, family members of the incarcerated, work-ready programs, programs that assist in housing, and access to justice programs to help low income and the legal illiterate navigate court proceedings and documentation. Attendees  were also were, free of charge, their full background check and explanations on how some things could either be restricted fixed if corrections were needed to be made, by the   CCH/Identification Program,  Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Sponsors for the Summit were Attorney Brian Poe and Associates, Attorney Alis Hughes, Rev. Fer-Rell Malone and the Macedonia Baptist Church of Waycross, GA, Mrs. Marsha Cummings Calloway, Rev. and Mrs. Benjamin Calloway, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington, Jr. Esq, Atlanta City Council members Antonio Brown, Andrea Boone, Michael J. Bond, and Cleta Winslow.
For future events by the DEAL Project and if you’d like to be notified about them or join their team email thedealprojectgeorgia@gmail.com

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Events

Joyette Holmes Is Awarded the 2020 Trumpet Award

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The 2020 Trumpet Award  was awarded to epiMediaGroup, LLC client, Joyette Holmes, as a CCRWC member. This award is given to Ian elected official that exemplifies the Republican philosophy by strong leadership and outstanding service to the citizens of Cobb County.

 Joyette joins other winners like Vic Reynolds, Senator Johnny Isakson, Sheriff Neil Warren, Rep. Bert Reeves, Kay Kirkpatrick and many others.  Thank you for your leadership,  commitment, dedication and service to the citizens of Cobb County during your tenure as District Attorney.

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