‘Middle Passage’ in ACC courtrooms … in the Year 2021

By John Cole Vodicka

Take a look at this Flagpole article detailing treatment of people accused of crime in Athens-Clarke County courts:

Chaining and binding prisoners is not right.  And over the years, courts have said as much:

  • “A defendant may not be forced to appear in shackles unless the trial court has found that such restraint is warranted by an essential state interest specific to the particular defendant.”  
  • “In order to shackle a defendant, a particularized need must be shown.”
  • The trial court improperly ordered that the defendant be shackled…despite the absence of any findings on record regarding the need to shackle the defendant.”
  • “It was error…for the state court to shackle the defendant without having made a case-by-case determination of the necessity, and simply deferring to the request of the corrections officer.”
  • “Even in this situation–a known prisoner, in a prison courtroom–the defendant should not be shackled absent proof of the need for this procedure.”

If you want to demand change, contact the following individuals to urge them to change former Sheriff Ira Edwards’ policies and UNSHACKLE ALL Athens-Clarke County pretrial prisoners when they appear in our courtrooms: