Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The New Slavery In South Georgia

I am a new comer to South Georgia. I am not a newcomer to the South. Here we are in 2012, and I am appalled in what is going on through out South Georgia, and maybe even state wide. I have lived in the Valdosta area, and now live in Cordele. I am seeing needless hundreds of Black men and women forced onto City and County Probation, for very minor, or irrelevant misdemeanor charges. Some charges are just made up by arresting officers, so that a Black person can be charged or arrested. Law enforcement officers can write down anything they choose on a citation, and the person cited has no recourse, or way, to prove that it happened, or did not happen, the way the officer wrote it. Most Blacks, who are accused, are poor, or low income, and can not afford to hire any type of legal counsel.

Before an accused person ever goes to court, their name, address, and law enforcement view of the charges are posted in the local newspaper, for all to see and read. This can affect a persons employment, housing, and legal status. Many times the information is wrong.

A note now about the Probation system in South Georgia. When a person is accused of a crime, and issued a citation, or arrested, If they can not afford to pay the fine, the person is put on Probation by the court. Probation in South Georgia is like this--you must pay a certain amount of money every month to the Probation Department, just for being on Probation. Then you pay another monthly amount to pay off what ever fine the judge gave you. So, in truth, you pay to be ON probation, and also pay off your fine. Many people have to make choices of do they feed their family, or pay their rent, or do they pay exhorbitant probation fees ? I have found, that mostly Black men and women, are put on Probation, with the hope from the County, that they mess up, and can then be jailed. If jailed in Cordele, Crisp County, Georgia, a poor person, mainly Blacks, can sit in jail for several months before ever even going to court. Bail is set at a price the court well knows the person can not afford.

Yes folks, white people DO NOT pay the same fines as Black people pay. Blacks are typically fined several hundred dollars more than Whites for the same offense. Blacks will be more likely to have additional charges added on by law enforcement, or the Prosecutor, than a White person would. This is going on daily in Cordele, and probably throughout South Georgia. I saw a similar type of this going on, when I lived in Valdosta.

When is slavery in Georgia going to end ?? We outlawed sharecropping, so Georgia made chain gangs, and convict leasing. When that became illegal, Georgia started the Probation game. Where is the NAACP ? Where is the Urban League ? Where is the ACLU ? I recently went with a friend to traffic court, the only whites in the room, were the Judge and the Court Reporter. All of the people sitting in the gallery were Black. Does the County really expect us to believe that only Black people get traffic fines ? Or are Blacks the only ones who have to pay large fines ? Why does the State of Georgia think that it is up to poor, penniless Black people, to support the State ? We are no longer on the plantation, but the mentality is still there, and the judges and prosecutors seem to plan to keep it that way.

My biggest question is WHY ?? Why do we as Black folks sit by and let this happen ?? We can march on Washington, but we can't put a bunch of racist crackers out of Georgia ? We should be marching day in and day out in every city and county in Georgia till this practice ends. We think about the terrible murder of Treyvon Martin in Florida. What are we doing to save the lives and futures of young Blacks here in Georgia ? Our people are being lied on, accused, and imprisoned on a daily basis. Yes, some have also been murdered.

I urge all of us, no matter what race, to stand up, start reporting when we are falsely accused, and falsely held against our will. Change will only happen, when WE make it happen. Call your local chapter of the NAACP, and report prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement personnel. Hold these people accountable for the things they say and do.