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Our 2024 Georgia Legislative Priorities

The second year of the 2023-2024 biennial legislative session in the Georgia General Assembly has officially kicked off! The Southern Center for Human Rights is committed to decriminalizing race and poverty in America’s Deep South and our policy priorities this session reflect that commitment. Read on to learn about our policy priorities, advocacy tools and community advocacy days.

Policy Priorities

Southern Center works to advance proactive and defensive strategies that protect marginalized communities. Every year, we identify discrete issues that will demand most of our attention.

Our 2024 policy priorities at the legislature will be:

Georgia is a dangerous outlier when it comes to protecting people with intellectual disability from execution. Since 2002, Southern Center has worked to reform Georgia’s statute, which is the only one in the country to set the standard of proof for establishing ID at “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Georgia is also the only state to require juries to deliberate ID while deliberating guilt.

We created this advocacy toolkit for organizations to use when educating their supporters about these important issues and will work with coalition partners to support lawmakers looking to change the standard of proof and remove the ID determination from the guilt phase of trial.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia sentences more children to die in prison than any other state. This has dire consequences for not only those children, but also the communities who lose them. We will work with our partners to support lawmakers seeking to end the practice of sentencing children to spend their entire lives behind bars.  

Ensuring that people in Georgia’s jails and prisons are not subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment. In addition to frequent litigation on this issue, we must promote legislative solutions that hold state actors to their duty to protect incarcerated people.

The Georgia Senate has initiated an investigation into conditions at Fulton County Jail even as some of those legislators continue to propose policies expanding wealth-based detention. We are committed to supporting legislators in understanding the root causes of the dysfunction in Fulton County while addressing the ways lawmakers can reduce harm in local jails. 

We know that cash bail and excessive monetary obligations disproportionately impact Black, brown and poor people in the criminal legal system. These practices also contribute to deplorable conditions in jails and prisons, including overcrowding and violence. We will work with lawmakers to ensure that Georgia does not yet again expand cash bail.

After working on a bi-partisan basis to repeal Citizen’s Arrest in Georgia, we committed to monitoring the impact of data tracking legislation we worked to pass last year.

We will continue to fight proposals like SB 359, which criminalizes protest by expanding Georgia’s RICO statute and creates criminal penalties for constitutionally protected activity.

Last Year in Review

To learn more about where we left off in 2023, please take a look at our Sine Die Legislative Update.

Find Your Legislators

Your legislators want to hear from you on important issues! Find your legislators by entering your address here. The members of the committees in the Georgia House and Senate who usually vet bills related to the criminal legal system may be found here for the Senate and here for the House.

Advocacy Days 

Join the Justice Reform Partnership’s 2024 Talk Justice Tuesdays advocacy series. Topics this session will be:

  • January 16: Advocacy Training 
  • January 23: Youth Justice 
  • February 6: Conditions of Confinement 
  • February 20: Overcoming Barriers to Reentry 
  • March 12: Legislative Action: Last Call 

Justice Day 2024: Justice is a Family Affair! 

Justice Day at the Capitol sponsored by the Justice Reform Partnership will take place Thursday, February 29, 2024 from 9 am – 3 pm ET at Central Presbyterian Church. Join Georgia’s leading advocates for the only annual comprehensive criminal legal reform advocacy day as we take action through the lens of protecting families from the ills of mass incarceration. All are welcome. Register here!

Local Policy Work 

Our policy advocacy is hyperlocal, local and statewide. On January 8, 2024, we presented recommendations from our Community Safety & Police Violence project during the first meeting of the Atlanta City Council. Access those resources here.

We also invited Atlanta’s leaders to Part 2 of our Pain & Power Stakeholder Symposium taking place on Thursday, February 22, 2024, 6 pm ET at Auburn Avenue Research Library. Mapping Police Violence found that 100% of unarmed people killed by Atlanta police are Black. Please join us to share your thoughts with elected officials about this disturbing fact and more. Register here to join the conversation.