Saturday, May 11, 2013

Desperation and the Criminal Justice System

A woman just called me.  She has six children.  Her fiance has been accused of committing  a felony.
She doesn't have the money to bail him out so that he can work on his defense and try to hold onto his job.  He is the family's sole breadwinner.  She's staying in a hotel room with the six kids.  The public defender won't say when he is likely to go to court.  She's talked to several lawyers, all of whom want an up-front retainer to represent her fiance and file a motion to try to get the bond reduced.  So do I.  Pro bono cases eat up the time that you have promised to paying clients.  I am sorry for her.  I give her the public defender's email address.  Lawyers respond better to written inquiry.  I give her the number to the Victim Witness Assistance program.  In the eyes of the law she is neither victim nor witness.  I feel guilty for not doing more.   According to the caller, this man has never been in serious trouble before and the evidence against him is weak. Those who get caught in the system are ground into dust. Innocence doesn't even enter into it.In cases like these, innocent until proven guilty is an aspiration, not a reality.

Rainbow PUSH Atlanta Meeting May 8, 2013

Rainbow PUSH Atlanta Meets with Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

Watch the Video at

Friday, May 3, 2013

Charlotte the Contender vs. Atlanta the Exceptional?

I confess I am biased toward North Carolina. My mom went to school there, at A & T when higher education opportunities for African American women were miniscule. My dad helped send Rev. Jesse Jackson to A & T. Watching ACC basketball was not a small factor in choosing Duke. Research Triangle Park, former Governor Terry Sanford, summers during high school at Bennett College all leave me favorably predisposed toward North Carolina.

But I heard the siren song of Atlanta early, too.  Daddy went to grad school at AU.  We rode the train from Greenville to visit him, stayed and ate at Paschals.  It was magical.  Greenville is half-way between Atlanta and Charlotte, just about the way my heart is torn between the two cities.

It is not surprising that I agree with a recent article touting Charlotte’s rise as a national political power. I joke with my elected official friends in Atlanta. “How can you scare a Georgia politician? Mention Charlotte.” All humor is based on a whacked out version of truth. North Carolina has embraced its HBCU’s. Nobody talks about consolidating A & T or Johnson C. Smith. North Carolina built the Research Triangle Park, linking and leveraging the power of North Carolina State, Duke and Chapel Hill. North Carolina has terrible roads and great schools. Georgia has great roads and terrible schools.

North Carolina has dedicated funding for mass transit. Georgians just defeated the TSPLOST, delaying or perhaps killing realistic options for saner transportation across Metro Atlanta. Now Anthony Foxx is going to run DOT for President Obama and Mel Watt is tapped for a national housing post. North Carolina is gaining clout and recognition because its voters reject knee-jerk reactions in favor of common sense bi-partisan solutions.

It is hard to disagree with the article’s conclusion that “Charlotte has in fact become, for now, a political power center in the state of North Carolina and maybe in the Southeast.” Last night, as Ingrid Saunders Jones gave the first of many closing statements of her storied career at The Coca-Cola Company, she advised a stellar crowd to be intentional about preserving what is exceptional about Atlanta. I couldn’t agree more.

Joseph D. Mathis - Playing Golf

PUSH Excel Scholars Travel to HBCU's and Gather at Denny's on Jimmy Carter Blvd. in Atlanta


Following in the Footsteps of Our Founders
As we look back with pride and celebrate the centennial of the founding of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, we are determined to meet the challenges of our day with the same fortitude that sustained our forebears a century ago.

Therefore, we support efforts to reduce and prevent gun violence while recognizing the fundamental right of each citizen to self-protection. The Second Amendment, like every other civil right, is not absolute. The right to own a weapon is circumscribed by legitimate interests of public health and safety. We view gun violence as a mental and physical health issue. We support the following measures to prevent and reduce gun violence. They include:
1. Require universal background checks. We should close the private sale loophole so that, to the greatest extent possible, every gun purchase is subject to a thorough background check. 82% of U.S. gun owners -- including more than 70% of NRA members -- support criminal background checks for all gun sales. Ninety-two percent of all households in the country support universal background checks.
2. Ban civilian ownership of assault/military type weapons. The carnage caused by assault/military type weapons outweighs the benefits to civilians, especially considering the available alternatives for self-protection and sportsmanship.
3. Persons adjudicated by a court as dangerous to themselves or others should not have access to guns.
4. Limit the number of rounds that an ammunition magazine will fire and require a 3-day waiting period prior to gun purchase.
5. Create a national registry of gun ownership to aid law enforcement in tracking guns used illegally. 6. Study the impact, causes and cures of gun violence, including
a. Economic deprivation b. Gun safety education c. Mental illness d. Entertainment that glorifies gratuitous violence e. Educational attainment f. Geographical influences

GUN VIOLENCE FACTS The U.S. murder rate is twenty times the rate of similar countries. Gun violence in our country takes 12 times the number of lives than in the next 25 wealthiest nations combined. Since 1994, more than 2 million people failed background checks Up to 40% of gun transfers are made without background checks. Nearly 80% of those who used a handgun in a crime acquired it without a background check. One out of three handguns is kept loaded and unlocked. The presence of a gun in the home triples the risk of homicide in the home. The presence of a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide fivefold. A gun kept in the home is 22 times more likely to be used in an unintentional shooting than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense. Fewer than 2% of all men die from homicide. Half of black male deaths between ages 15 and 24 are by homicide. At the same time that homicides soared in Chicago and Detroit in 2012, they reached decades-long or near-record lows in New York and Washington, D.C. The 62 center cities of America's 50 largest metro areas account for 15 percent of the population but 39 percent of gun-related murders, 11 percent of suicides, and 23 percent of total homicides