In 5 years, Courtwatch clocks 1000 hours, bonds out 51 people

The all-volunteer Athens Area Courtwatch Project is completing its fifth year of observing criminal proceedings in the Athens-Clarke County courts. 

By the end of 2023, volunteers will have logged nearly 1,000 hours in courtrooms, observing hundreds of hearings, providing moral support to families of defendants and encouragement to defendants’ lawyers. More than 100 unique individuals have volunteered in 2023.

The … Read the rest

Finding your way out of Misdemeanorland

By John Cole Vodicka

I posted a $1 – yes, one dollar! – cash bond on Friday afternoon to get Terry B. out of jail. Mr. B. had been locked up nine days. He’d been charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing/damage to property.

Because the State tacked on “family violence” to the charge, a new Georgia law prohibits any judge from setting a non-cash bond … Read the rest

Shackled to a system designed to separate, shame

“Like Jim Crow (and slavery), mass incarceration operates as a tightly networked system of laws, policies, customs, and institutions that operate collectively to ensure the subordinate status of a group defined largely by race.”

– Michelle Alexander

By John Cole Vodicka

Friends, we must acknowledge the 400 years of injustice that haunt us.

After enslaved African Americans arrived in Virginia … Read the rest

Convicted of nothing, woman jailed for nearly two weeks for lack of $33

Nancy G.

“Corn cannot expect justice from a court composed of chickens.” 

―African proverb

By John Cole Vodicka

Nancy G. is 54 years old. I took this photograph on this past Friday morning while she and I stood outside the Athens Homeless Day Shelter on North Avenue. Thanks to the Oconee Street United Methodist Church’s Community Bail Initiative, I was … Read the rest