Kamau speaking out about the lack of diversity and equity in the Clarke County School System.
Kamau teaching a "Know Your Rights" workshop for east side residents.
Kamau poses with wife, Nicole, and Chief Justice Robert Benham just prior to Justice Benham address on community building and diversity att the Western Judicial Circuit Bar Association luncheon.
The Need for Equity and Diversity in Criminal Justice Reform Efforts
We have many local ordinances that mirror state law and lessen penalties for the same or similar conduct. It has been my experience that access to those ordinances depends less on an ordinance’s availability, and more on a combination of the internal policies of those with discretion, an individual defendant’s access to good representation, or the preservation of an individual defendant’s future. Charges, accusations, and results vary greatly given say an accused average citizen versus an accused University of Georgia student. I have seen similar dichotomies exist across racial, and socioeconomic status lines as well.
In addition, we are already seeing an erosion of access to good representation with Governor Kemp’s recent budget proposals to decrease Public Defender funding (as well as funding for Conflict Defenders like myself) and simultaneously increase Prosecutor funding.
Further, situations like the recent resignation of District Attorney Ken Mauldin, and the pending cancellation of the local District Attorney race, do not bode well for our community being able to democratically move towards more equitable, fair, and consistent prosecutions.
Without addressing the diversity of those on the local level with the discretion of whether or not to use such options (i.e. Police, Code Enforcement, Prosecutors, and Judges), and securing the commitment of those same decision-makers to begin to actually use those options, and use them fairly or consistently, an ordinance to decriminalize marijuana can only create another opportunity to perpetuate such dichotomies within our community.
Community Police Advisory Board
I fully support establishing a Community Police Advisory Board. It is my understanding that some form of this initiative is already underway.
However, I would actually advocate for said board’s expansion to not only cover the review of police killings or other serious misconduct, but also:
(1) a review of all complaints resulting from police interaction, and
(2) oversight on citizen education regarding when and how to lodge such complaints. Complaints like these are important precursors for knowing if there are larger issues with how police are treating people and may be even more damning when used as evidence that the ACC Police knew of an officer’s dangerous propensities prior to a killing or other serious transgression.
Unpaid Prison Labor
While prison labor is specifically excepted under the 13th Amendment, and there are some work training and experience benefits to prisoners, the prison labor system in our State is too often used as an extension of historical forms of involuntary servitude rather than prisoner rehabilitation.
Market wage initiatives for prisoners could still accomplish the rehabilitation benefits, but may also provide some victim compensation funds, family support while the prisoner is displaced, or even facilitate re-entry into society if those wages are deferred until release.