• The Southern Center for Human Rights represents individuals on death row at trial, on appeal, and in the post-conviction review process.
  • The legal system is so complex and contains so many procedural traps that a lay person accused of a crime can no more navigate it alone than a passenger can fly a plane in the absence of the pilot.
  • Through the use of tough on crime rhetoric, politicians have brought about longer prison terms, siphoning off resources that could be better spent on programs and services that provide real solutions to crime.
  • The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and within the United States, the top 7 states with the highest incarceration rates are all Southern states.
  • Contrary to what many people believe, there are debtors’ prisons throughout the United States where people are imprisoned because they are too poor to pay fines and fees.

The Southern Center for Human Rights




  • 14th March 2015

    The U.S. Justice Department on Friday stepped into ongoing litigation to express concern about legal representation for juveniles in a South Georgia judicial circuit.

    The agency’s civil rights division, in a 22-page court filing, told a Fulton County judge he should find the constitutional rights of juvenile defendants are being violated if necessary legal safeguards are not in place.

  • 1st March 2015

    Just 12 years ago, Georgia’s indigent defense system was a national embarrassment. Defendants languished in jails for months at a time without ever seeing a lawyer. At many courthouses, assembly-line justice was the norm, with lawyers meeting their clients just a few minutes before entering guilty pleas.

  • 24th November 2014

    Vera Cheeks, of Bainbridge, received a $135 for rolling through a stop sign. Going on probation gave her time to pay, but money was so tight that she was unable to make an immediate payment of $50. Her fiancé resorted to pawning Cheeks’ engagement ring and a Weed Eater so she could leave the building. “It just broke my heart,” Cheeks said.

    Vera Cheeks was hoping for mercy when she appeared in court for rolling through a stop sign.

    What she got was probation: Georgia’s high-cost solution for people who can’t immediately pay a traffic fine.

  • 18th September 2014

    Court papers filed in dispute allege sexual harassment by interim PD

    Officials in charge of filling the vacant circuit public defender position in Cordele are extending the application deadline, ending a dispute in which critics called the hiring process a sham.

    The decision to advertise the position more widely and give interested attorneys another 30 days to apply renders moot the Southern Center for Human Rights' request that a judge order a similar result.

  • 17th September 2014

    At its troubled Cordele office in South Georgia, the state public defenders system has replaced a lawyer accused of incompetence with one accused of sexual harassment, according to court filings.