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October 2017

Oct 27 2017

Marsy’s Law For Georgia

by Camille B

M.Law

Tamiko Pugh had finally gathered enough strength and fortitude to walk out of the abusive relationship she was in; but when she tried to do so, her abuser informed her that he would rather kill them both than allow her to leave.

While they were driving on the interstate, he grabbed the steering wheel of the car they were in and caused them to have a wreck. Tamiko woke up disoriented and in a panic, lying in the middle of I-85 as cars whizzed past her.

She filed charges against him and he was jailed that day. She decided to use that time to file a restraining order against him, but as she walked into the courthouse that morning to do so she heard a familiar, chilling voice behind her saying, “Hello Beautiful.”

Unbeknownst to her, her abuser had been allowed to exercise his legal rights and was released on bond; no one called to give her any warning that he was out. In the months that followed, he violated his restraining order several times, harassing her and even physically attacking her at her workplace. (Marsy’s Law Campaign Blog, Victims’ Stories)

                                                                                                  ******

Just days before her death, Bridgette Flowers estranged husband assaulted her at a Walmart store. Surveillance video caught him punching her twice in the face, leaving her unconscious and laying on the floor. He was booked that night into the Bibb County Jail and the next day released on a special conditions bond- the special condition being that he could not contact his victim. Bridgette had no idea she could have had him re-arrested when he called and harassed her over and over again. The advocate’s office later told a reporter that it takes at least 30 days to give notification of rights to a crime victim. Bridgette Flowers died on Day 8. While with her children in a minivan on that fateful day in 2014, her husband Jasento Flowers, walked up, stuck a gun in the window and shot her. (Marsy’s Law Campaign Blog, Victims’ Stories)

I wish I could tell you that Tamiko and Bridgette’s cases are isolated ones, that stories like these are few and far between but the truth is that there are hundreds of victims throughout  the state of Georgia who are left every day feeling defenseless and at the mercy of their attackers and abusers as they attempt to navigate the legal process with no real backing.

The stories I read were shared by victims who felt like they had no voice while they waited for resolutions to cases that sometimes never came, and if they did, it would sometimes be after the fact and they never get a chance to be a part of the proceedings, to have an input, as was the case for Tammy Berryhil whose 19 year old daughter was killed by a distracted driver.

I called monthly to the Columbus DAs office asking for updates as to when the case would come to  trial…I was told that I would be given a call so I could be present and be a voice for my daughter. To my shock and dismay, one month when I called I was told that the case had already been to trial and was over. The accused was sentenced to 250 hours of community service and allowed to leave the state…my daughter’s voice was silenced. And by not being notified or being able to be present in court, I feel like her voice was silenced all over again.”

I find this totally unacceptable. Crime victims and their families are often times still grieving for their loved ones, or living in fear of their offenders even as they try get their lives back to some semblance of normalcy; to find relief, justice or closure; treating them like a number or statistic, would simply be adding insult to injury.

I believe they deserve to have rights that are recognized at the highest levels. Accused and convicted criminals have more than 20 individual rights spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. Crime victims have none, at least none that can be enforced, and as one person rightly said “Rights that are not enforceable are not really rights at all.” This is where Marsy’s Law comes in.

WHAT IS MARSY’S LAW?

Marsy’s Law was named in memory of Marsalee Nicholas, a 21 year old University student from California, who in 1983 was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend. A week after her murder, Marsy’s mother and brother were confronted by the accused murderer in the grocery store. They had no idea that he had been released on bail. They were not informed because the courts and law enforcement, though they meant well, were not obligated by law to keep them informed. Marsalee’s brother Dr. Henry Nicholas later founded Marsy’s Law for All. Since the beginning  of their fight for the legal rights of crime victims and their families, 35 states have adopted versions of Marsy’s Law as constitutional protections.

 STATUS OF MARSY’S LAW IN GEORGIA

Georgia is one of only 15 states that does not give equal constitutional rights and protections to crime victims.

It has had a crime victim’s bill of rights since 2010, which is a good thing in those jurisdictions that adhere to the state’s statutory laws protecting crime victims, but there is no recourse for crime victims in those that don’t. This is why many committed Georgians are pushing for the state to adopt its own version of Marsy’s Law to be written into the state constitution. (Ledger-Enquirer)

The Law is now under consideration in the Georgia State Senate, it was introduced by State Senator John F. Kennedy (R-Macon), during the 2017 General Assembly, passing the Senate 50-4 and crossing over to the House which will consider the constitutional amendment next year. You can contact your representative to learn more. 

Marsy’s Law would give victims:

-The right to be treated with courtesy, fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy throughout the criminal justice proceedings,

-The right to receive information about their rights and the services available to crime victims.

-The right to receive timely notification of proceedings and other major developments in their case.

-The right to receive timely notification of changes to the offender’s custodial status

-The right to be present in court proceedings. The right to provide input to the prosecutor before a plea agreement is finalized.

-The right to be heard at plea or sentencing proceedings or any process that may result in the offender’s release.

-The right to restitution.

You can also visit the website where you hear others share their stories.

” The goal of Marsy’s law is to (1) give crime victims equal constitutional standing in court with the accused or convicted criminal and (2) enforceable rights and remedy. Neither one of these rights is afforded to Georgia crime victims in our current law. Once we pass through the Georgia House and Senate, we will be on the 2018 ballot for the people of Georgia to vote.

No abuser should have more rights than the person they abused.”

Ann Casas (Marsy’s Law Campaign Blog)SM-M2Juj

 

Giving Victims A Voice

 

 

 

 

 

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Oct 17 2017

Fun Facts About Authors We Love

by Camille B

authors we love 1If you’re an avid reader you most likely have a favorite author; probably more than one depending on the particular genre you’re reading at the time. You enjoy their books and get on the waiting list for their latest release, visit their websites regularly and even sign up to receive newsletters.

And though you may not go overboard like some do with their beloved celebrities, waiting outside their homes and going through their trash to see what brand of toothpaste they buy or try to sell their retainers on E-bay, you’re none-the-less intrigued by them and have a keen and ‘normal‘ fascination with their everyday lives: how they spend their time writing, what inspires them etc.

You’re sometimes tickled by what you find, or even a little surprised. I have to admit I was a little of both as I began doing the research about some of these authors. I found myself laughing quite a bit as I tried to envision some of the things I was reading.

If the authors listed here are any of your personal favorites, you’re probably already versed in everything ‘them.’ For the others I hope you enjoy seeing the human, everyday side of them the way I did.

William Faulkner

  • He never graduated from high school or had a college degree, yet he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, two Pulitzers and the National Book Award
  • H declined a dinner invitation from First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and was quoted by LIFE magazine as saying  “Why that’s a hundred miles away, that’s a long way to go just to eat.”
  • He served as a postmaster at the University of Mississippi for two years but found the job boring. It was reported that he would get there late, leave early, play cards and work on his writing. He eventually quit in 1924 saying, “…I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp.” Ironically the United States Postal Service issued a 22 cent stamp in his honor in 1987

Mayo Angelou

  • She moved to Cairo, Egypt in 1961 where she was an editor for The Arab Observer
  • She mastered French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, and Fanti
  • She rejected modesty, saying that true arrogance lay in denying one’s own specialness and denying the specialness of others
  • She became the second poet in history to read a poem during a presidential inauguration.  She wrote and read “On the Pulse of Morning” for Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993.
  • She won a Grammy in 1993 in the Best Spoken Word category for an audio recording of that same poem

Beverly Cleary

  • She celebrated her 101st birthday this year (yep, amazing)
  • She had no access to a public library growing up. Her mother contacted the state library and ordered books to be sent to their town and with those books made a makeshift library above a bank where she became the acting librarian
  • She received an initial rejection for her book, originally called “Henry Huggins and Spareribs,” but later it was accepted after she changed “Spareribs” to “Ribsy” and added the characters Beezus and Ramona
  • She baked at the same time she wrote.“I used to bake bread while I wrote.” she says.“I’d mix the dough up and sit down and start to write. After a while, the dough would rise and I’d punch it down and write some more. When the dough rose the second time, I’d put it in the oven and have the yeasty smell of bread as I typed.”
  • She was honored with an elementary school in Portland with her name, as well as a sculpture garden that features bronze statues of Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins and Ribsy the dog

DAN BROWN

  • He was inspired to write thrillers from Sidney Sheldon’s novel The Doomsday Conspiracy
  • He’s always been interested in secrets and puzzles; as a child growing up there were always ciphers, anagrams and other puzzles laying around the house for him and his siblings to solve
  • He gets up every day at 4 am to write, and prepares a smoothie before he begins, comprised of blueberries, spinach, banana, coconut water, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds
  • His computer is programmed to freeze for 60 seconds each hour, during which time Mr. Brown performs push-ups, situps and anything else he needs to take care of
  • In 2004 all four of his novels were featured in the New York Times Best Seller List in the same week

ALICE WALKER

  • She and her husband were the first legally married interracial couple to live in the state of Mississippi
  • She created and taught the first class in the country dedicated to African-American Women Writers at Wellesley College
  • Her favorite word is “irregardless” and is also on her license plate
  • Some of her favorite music influences are Bob Marley and Sweet Honey in the Rock

MAURICE SENDAK 

  • Where The Wild Things Are was President’s Obama’s choice of children’s book to read over the Easter weekend for the 2016 Easter Egg Roll at the White House
  • The “Things” in the book were based on Maurice’s Jewish relatives and the way he viewed them as a child, they came every week for Sunday lunch and would always tell him he looked so good they could eat him up

DANIELLE STEEL

  • Is not very fond of email and says that she doesn’t trust it “Half the time I send them to the wrong people and the other half I delete.”
  • In 1981 her name made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for having a book on the New York Times best-seller list for 381 consecutive weeks
  • She writes her books on a 1946 Olympia manual typewriter,”I paid $20 for that typewriter at the beginning of my career,” she said “And I’m getting my money out of it.”

LORRAINE HANSBERRY

  • A Raisin in the Sun was originally called The Crystal Stairs
  • Nina Simone wrote a song based on her unfinished play titled To Be Young, Gifted and Black
  • She met Robert Kennedy to test his position on Civil Rights
  • After her death, her ex-husband finished her play Les Blancs
  • A Raisin in the Sun was performed 530 times

ROALD DAHL

  • Was a fighter pilot in World War II and a spy who passed intelligence to MI6 from Washington
  • He never learned how to type
  • He wrote screenplays for the James Bond hits You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  • Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory was inspired by Cadbury and Rowntree’s, and the secrecy in their development process
  • In 1971, just before the movie was released, a real man named Willy Wonka wrote to him, a postman from Nebraska; the letter and his response to it are part of the display at the Road Dahl Museum and Story Center
  • When he died in 1990 he was buried with some of his favorite things including a power drill, chocolate and HB pencils

MARY HIGGINS CLARK

  • Did not start out as a suspense writer, her first book, a romance called Aspire to the Heavens, was published in 1968 and tells the love story between George and Martha Washington. The book was published again in 2000 as Mount Vernon Love Story
  • In 1981 when President  Reagan was shot, she managed to make her way to the press area where she ended up being one of the few people allowed to ask questions during the event
  • She worked as a secretary for Remington-Rand and sometimes modeled for their catalogs, one time even doing a photo shoot with Grace Kelly
  • Before marrying her first husband she worked as a flight attendant for Pan Am

Rachel Renee Russell

  • Worked as a bankruptcy lawyer before the Dork Diaries took off
  • Her daughters Erin and Nikki helps with the writing and illustrating of her books, Nikki with the illustrations and Erin with the writing
  • She wrote her first book in the sixth grade as a birthday gift for her younger twin brothers

George R.R. Martin

  • Still does his writing with a DOS word processor, Word Star 4.0 (yep, I almost fell out of my chair too)
  • He was a writer and producer on the  TV series Beauty and the Beast in the 1980s
  • He owns his own cinema in New Mexico called the Jean Cocteau Cinema

Nicholas Sparks

  • While writing and trying to sell his first novel he worked at various jobs; a real estate appraisal, home restoration, and various food services
  • The Notebook became a bestseller in its first week of being released
  • The inspiration for the main character in A Walk to Remember was his younger sister Danielle who died from a brain tumor.
  • He has a two-lane bowling alley in his home.

Octavia Butler

  • Was the first science fiction author to win a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1995 which allowed her to buy a house for her mother
  • She was a world traveler and traveled across the globe often while doing research for her writing
  • She moved to Seattle in 1999 and brought 300 boxes of books with her, many of the books she’d had from childhood
  • She grappled with severe writer’s block in the early 2000s
  • She was a fan of Fantastic Four comics and collected them, and also Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels

E.B. White

  • He loved sailing
  • He struggled with writing and procrastination and in an interview admitted to walking around the house straightening and fixing before sitting down to write
  • He fought to keep the animated version of Charlotte’s Web true to the book; the studio wanted to change the ending by not having Charlotte die but he pushed back against it
  • He struggled with anxiety and had trouble meeting new people and speaking in public
  • He had Alzheimer’s disease but according to his family, fought it with grace and humor

Harper Lee

  • Was a Mets fan
  • She kept in touch with her favorite English teacher from high school, Ms. Gladys Watson, and sent her the final draft of To Kill a Mockingbird for proofreading before sending it off to her publishers; after the book was finally published she flew Ms. Watson out to New York City to visit and took her on a month-long trip to England as a gesture of thanks.
  • She initially wanted Spencer Tracy to play Atticus Finch in the Mockingbird movie

James Patterson

  • Worked in advertising before he started writing. He was the chairman of J. Walter Thompson for seven years
  • He wrote his first book, The Thomas Berryman Number, when he was just 26. It received 31 rejections before finally being accepted by a publisher and going on to win an Edgar Award
  • He started the Readkiddoread online movement to help parents find books that their children would actually want to read
  • His favorite book as a child was Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

S.E. Hinton

  • Wrote The Outsiders while she was still in High School; according to her, she had written the novel for herself and hadn’t planned on publishing it, until the mother of one of her friends read a draft and thought it deserved a wider audience
  • Her first Royalty check was for $10
  •  She was involved in the making of the movie The Outsiders, and even made a cameo as a nurse

TONI MORRISON

  • She was born Chloe Anthony Wofford but changed her name because people found Chloe hard to pronounce
  • When she entered the first grade she was the only black child and the only one who could read
  • One of her favorite authors is Jane Austen
  • She was one of the few black editors at Random House
  •  In 1993 she was the first African-American woman to be selected for the Nobel Prize in Literature

TOM CLANCY

  • He was working as an insurance broker when he began writing The Hunt For Red October
  • His wife begged him to give up his writing because she felt he was wasting his time- until she read his book
  • A woman who read the book loved it so much she gave a copy to all of her friends, one of those friends? President Reagan, who publicly complimented the book which went on to be a best seller
  • Of all the actors who played Jack Ryan, Ben Affleck was his favorite

I sincerely wished that I could include all of the authors that you’ve read and loved down through the years in this post, but it’s just not possible, instead I admonish you to check out the vast Biography collection at any of our DCPL branches where you can find many more of your favorite authors to choose from.

Book

 

Why We Write– edited by Meredith Maran

The Writing Life- commentary by  Marie Arana

 

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Wrongful Conviction Day – October 2

An estimated 3-5% of the nation’s incarcerated population is wrongfully convicted — that translates to roughly 1,500-3,000 innocent people in Georgia who are currently serving time in prison for crimes they did not commit. October 2, 2017, is the fourth annual Wrongful Conviction Day, an international day to increase awareness about the plight of those who are wrongfully convicted and the systemic factors that lead to wrongful convictions. The day is meant to encourage dialogue about this important issue and promote policy remedies at a grassroots level. See the list below for a sampling of books and DVDs to help you get that dialogue going.

Also right here in DeKalb County, the Georgia Innocence Project (GIP) is a small nonprofit organization that fights to free innocent men and women from Georgia and Alabama prisons. GIP works to find DNA evidence that will prove who the true perpetrator was and to ultimately petition the court for the person’s release based on the new evidence. Part of GIP’s mission is to educate the public that wrongful convictions are neither rare nor isolated incidents. You can see news and updates from GIP on their Facebook page and Twitter.

ExonereePhoto2

On a recent day, four exonerees enjoyed the afternoon in Decatur. Their names and the number of years they spent wrongfully convicted in Georgia prisons are (L-R), John White (27 years), Clarence Harrison (17 years), Calvin Johnson (16 years) and Pete Williams (22 years). photo by Grace Akan

Check these out at DCPL

After Innocence (DVD) produced by the American Film Foundation and Showtime

Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted edited by Laura Caldwell and Leslie S. Klinger

The Central Park Five (DVD) from Ken Burns, David McMahon and Sarah Burns

The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding by Sarah Burns

Convicting the Innocent: Death Row and America’s Broken System of Justice by Stanley Cohen

Devil in the Grove :Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King (also available as an eBook)

Exit to Freedom by Calvin Johnson (The author is from Georgia and is in the picture. He spent 16 years in prison before being exonerated.)

Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter by James S. Hirsch.

Journey Toward Justice by Dennis Fritz

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (also available as an audiobook and eBook)

Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, with Erin Torneo

Thank you to guest contributor Raylynn Hughes for this DCPLive post.

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