Thank you to everyone who attended the Second Chance for Georgia Campaign Kick Off event last week! For anyone who was unable to attend the event, here are ways you can get involved and help move the campaign to expand expungement forward:
- Share your story—personal stories of how Georgia’s narrow expungement law impacts individuals and families will illustrate the urgent need to expand expungement and help to move legislators on the issue. Share your story here or contact Yasemin@gjp.org.
- Spread the word about the campaign on social media, or in person with other non-profits, congregations and community organizations.
- Talk with your contacts in the business community about how expanding expungement will help people get back to work and benefit the state’s economy.
- Look for upcoming action alerts that will give you tools to educate the community and elected officials in advance of the legislative session beginning in January. In the coming weeks, GJP will email you template letters to the editor for newspapers and template scripts for phone calls and emails to elected officials.
If you were unable to attend the campaign kickoff event but would like to know more, here is a recap:
On Tuesday, the Second Chance for Georgia Campaign hosted its Kick Off Event at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, with many of its 35 partner organizations participating and a room full of people who are struggling with the consequences of a criminal record, supporters, and advocates learning and engaging with one another.
Tariq Baiyina of the Inner City Muslim Action Network opened the evening by talking about how IMAN supports the campaign so that their members can have better access to opportunity. Next Brenda Smeeton of the Georgia Justice Project and Marissa Dodson of the Southern Center for Human Rights gave some background about why Georgia needs to expand its expungement law and the momentum that is being built in the legislature, including the need to build bipartisan support for the issue.
Bridgette Simpson of Women on the Rise, Karen James of the National Incarceration Association, Deborah Scott of Georgia Stand Up, and Angela Marshall of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta each spoke about their organizations’ support of the campaign and why removing barriers to employment, housing and other opportunities makes sense for individuals, families and communities.
Nikki Roberts then led the group through some small group sharing about the importance of story in creating connection and how “data tells but story sells” by putting a human face on the problem we are trying to solve. She invited individuals to share their story about how their record continues to be a barrier long after their sentence is over.
Tony West from Americans for Prosperity and Eric Cochling from Georgia Center for Opportunity spoke about how removing barriers so that people can live up to their full potential is needed, and how conservative legislators should also be supportive of our effort to expand expungement. Ann Colloton of the Georgia Justice Project spoke about upcoming action alerts to expect, such as letters to the editor and calling elected officials. Rabbi Lydia Medwin of the Temple closed the evening with a beautiful prayer and charge to all of us to continue the fight with love.