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Criminal Justice Reform is on the Ballot on May 24th in Georgia

I know you’re probably like, oh boy… Here is someone else telling me I need to vote. Or perhaps you are like wait, I didn’t know there was an election tomorrow. Or perhaps you are like, I will just wait until November to vote.

I’m definitely not one of those people who try to guilt or shame people into voting. People have various reasons for not voting, and I respect them all. Also, many people do not see a measurable difference between when they vote, or do not vote. Their material conditions stay the same. I say all that to say I get it.

However, I would still like to encourage everyone to vote tomorrow. Criminal Justice Reform is literally on the ballot. Judges are on the primary ballot only. This means that they are only voted on in May. And while the offices are nonpartisan, (meaning they are theoretically not democrats or republicans) they can and do indicate how they would welcome or deny reforms. If the recent Supreme Court nomination and hearing process showed us anything, it showed us why we need diversity in judges at all levels.

There are also District Attorney and Solicitor primary elections on the ballot in some places in Georgia. These races are not non partisan, and these candidates have been clear about where they stand. We have the opportunity to elect or reflect people who will expand diversion programs, youthful offender programs, and more. We have the opportunity to elect people who will unequivocally champion reforms.

When it comes to criminal justice reform, it is easy to see the connection when we are talking about judge, solicitor, and district attorney races. But criminal justice reform permeates every aspect of the ballot. In the Georgia legislative session earlier this year, the state legislature rolled back previously enacted reforms and is shifting back to the tough on crime stance. We have seen this before, and we know it doesn’t work. We need legislators who understand reforms and not legislators who are just trying to lure voters with scare tactics and talking points.

Even, the statewide races have an impact on the criminal justice system. The Attorney General is the chief legal officer of the state. They advise the state government and represent them in legal proceedings and so much more.

While this list isn’t exhaustive, I just wanted to take a minute to discuss the importance of voting in tomorrow’s primary elections. Georgia has the highest percentage of people under correctional control. (meaning the largest percentage of people in prison, jail, or on probation or parole) We have to do better. There are many different strategies to get to “better.” However, having reform minded people in positions of power will go a long way and help us get there sooner.

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