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A Quarterly Update from the SCHR Ambassadors

SCHR In the News

  • Earlier this week, SCHR and co-counsel at the Georgia Innocence Project argued in front of the Supreme Court of Georgia that a Superior Court ruling that granted SCHR client Johnny Lee Gates a new trial should stand. Earlier this year, Judge Allen granted Mr. Gates a new trial based on new, exculpatory DNA evidence. Judge Allen also found “undeniable” and “overwhelming” evidence of race discrimination on the part of the prosecution. Read more here.


  • Also this week, SCHR attorneys Atteeyah Hollie and Patrick Mulvaney secured the freedom of SCHR client Lee Teasley. Mr. Teasley had been arrested for possessing six grams of cocaine with intent to distribute in Whitfield County, Georgia, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Thanks to SCHR, the District Attorney agreed to resentence Mr. Teasley to time served with no probation, and after 27 years of incarceration, Mr. Teasley walked out of prison a free man, into the loving embrace of his family.


  • A federal judge last month ordered Fulton County to take immediate steps to improve the treatment of mentally ill women being held in a jail annex in Union City. U.S. District Court Judge Billy Ray granted a preliminary injunction for women who have been held for prolonged periods in solitary confinement and in filthy conditions at the South Fulton Municipal Regional Jail. Lawyers for SCHR and the Georgia Advocacy Office asked Judge Ray to require that the roughly 30 to 40 mentally ill women at the jail be allowed to leave their cells for up to four hours a day at least five days a week. Judge Ray ordered the jail to grant that request within 30 days, with exceptions for those inmates posing “an immediate and substantial risk” of harming someone else. Ray also gave the county 30 days to present a plan that ensures an appropriate environment for the female inmates. The plan must include steps that help the women maintain their hygiene, live in a clean and safe environment, and be allowed out-of-cell group activities. SCHR lawyer Sarah Geraghty said she was very pleased with Ray’s decision. Read more here.


  • In Ambassador news, you may recall that one of SCHR’s former clients, Christopher Williams, was released from prison after serving 19 years of a life sentence for stealing $26 as an unarmed accomplice in a robbery where no one was injured. After his release, he struggled to get his driver’s license because of insurmountable debt. The Ambassadors took it upon themselves to fundraise on Mr. Williams’s behalf, and we raised the full $1200 he needed to pay off all of his debt and truly get a new start!


Click here for more SCHR news.


Upcoming Events

Please join us in supporting SCHR at these upcoming events:

2019 Decriminalizing Race & Poverty Symposium, Wednesday, September 11, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Where: Georgia State University College of Law, 85 Park Place NE, Atlanta, GA 30303

**There will be an Ambassadors Happy Hour immediately following the event at 6:00 PM.
Register here

23rd Annual Frederick Douglass Awards Dinner, Thursday, November 7, 7:00 PM

Where: Conrad Washington DC Hotel, 916 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30318

Register here

Ambassador Profile: Keenan Yates

What’s your name? 

Keenan Yates

Where do you work, and what do you do? 

I work at Habitat for Humanity International in downtown Atlanta. I serve as the Manager of Lending Resources, where I support Habitat’s efforts to attract and deploy private capital to increase the production and preservation of affordable housing across the U.S.  For those who are familiar with or have ever volunteered with a local Habitat affiliate, I basically help them secure some of the financing that allows them to build and sell affordable housing.

Where did you grow up?  

Born and raised in St. Louis, MO…shout out to the Midwest!

What’s your favorite Atlanta neighborhood?  

That’s easy – my own neighborhood of Old Fourth Ward. It has all of the amenities I could ask for, plus it’s near my job in Downtown (also one of my favorites). I pretty much spend 70 to 80 percent of my time within a 3 mile radius of O4W. I also have a great deal of admiration for the West End neighborhood – its history, resilience, potential, and the Atlanta University Center.

How long have you been involved with the SCHR Ambassadors?  

Oh wow – since the inception, back in early 2017, and it has been a great experience.

What inspired you to get involved with the Southern Center?  

Having never worked in the legal or criminal justice field, I was completely unaware of the Southern Center until being invited to join the newly formed Ambassadors. Upon being introduced to SCHR and learning about the cases they work on, I was immediately inspired and impressed. Two and a half years of being involved, and I am continually inspired.

What’s been your favorite Southern Center/Ambassadors event from the last year?  

I’m going to cheat and name a few for different reasons.

Favorite Live-Stream Event: 2018 Decriminalizing Race & Poverty Symposium – I wasn’t able to attend in person, but I live streamed a good bit of it. It was an engaging conversation around combating the criminalization of race and poverty and its adverse effects. It also featured a tremendous panel and keynote speaker.

Favorite Working Group: Pillars of Justice Letter Writing Event – A small group of Ambassadors handwrote thank you letters to SCHR contributors. It was great to see how many people, near and far, support the Southern Center and its work.

Favorite Crowdfunding Campaign: Southern Center Re-entry Fund – We raised $1,200 to help a former SCHR client financially re-adjust to the outside, after serving 19 years of a life sentence for stealing $26 as an unarmed accomplice to a gas station robbery where no one was injured.

Favorite Event Overall: No Laughing Matter at Monday Night Brewing Garage – I thought it was an awesome way to highlight and blend the heavy topic of criminal justice with something as “digestible” as comedy and beer.

As an Ambassador, There’s No Shortage of Ways to Contribute to the Southern Center

  • Join the Pillars of Justice Society with a recurring monthly donation to SCHR. This is a great way to fulfill your Ambassador pledge of $250 per year.
  • Make SCHR your AmazonSmile recipient, so they receive a portion of every purchase you make on Amazon (it adds up!)
  • While you’re on Amazon, purchase items for newly released SCHR clients.
  • Host a Facebook fundraiser for your birthday to benefit SCHR.
  • Let us know if you or your employer might have space SCHR could use for events.
  • Attend SCHR events! As an Ambassador, you have pledged to attend 2-3 a year. We’d love to see you!
  • Follow the Southern Center and SCHR Ambassadors on social media, repost and like SCHR’s content, and invite your friends to do the same:

Facebook (Southern Center) (Ambassadors)

Instagram: @thesoutherncenter @schr_ambassadors

Twitter: @southerncenter

We Want to Hear From You

Do you have ideas for future events? Ways we can support the Southern Center and its clients? We’d love to hear from you! If you would like to get more involved with the SCHR Ambassadors and serve on the Leadership Council, please contact [email protected] or [email protected].