First Presbyterian Church Coming Home Project
We all rightly celebrate when a person acknowledges a past mistake, turns away from it, and tries proactively to build a productive future for himself and his family. Unfortunately, for some people trying to do just that, tough Georgia laws stand in the way, leaving otherwise reformed and productive members of society without the ability to re-create a normal life for themselves after a prior encounter with the criminal justice system. The First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta’s new “Coming Home Project” helps these people who are trying to help themselves. The Project is staffed entirely by volunteer lawyers and 100% of its work is pro-bono legal representation.
You may not realize how little it takes to obtain a criminal record—even an arrest without prosecution or conviction can be enough. And once a person obtains a criminal record, categorical Georgia laws can bar that person from obtaining certain types of housing, employment, or public assistance such as Social Security. This kind of exclusion from the basic essentials of life too often unfairly stops in its tracks a person’s initiative to live once again as a responsible, productive member of our community. To be sure, many of Georgia’s barriers-to-reentry laws have a necessary purpose. But the Coming Home Project has a similarly necessary purpose by helping deserving people who have been subjected to harsh life-altering consequences from laws never meant to apply to them: the woman arrested but never convicted who now cannot get a job, the man with an erroneous criminal history whose Section 8 housing application is denied, and the adult who made a youthful indiscretion and is now barred from Social Security or other public assistance.
The best part is that it can take so little to achieve such life-altering results. A gift of $100 to the Coming Home Project is nearly enough money to handle two pro bono cases of record correction or expungement. All of the proceeds from the Associates’ Campaign will be used to cover mandatory filing fees of approximately $50 for each record. Indeed, because the Coming Home Project is run on an entirely volunteer basis through the generosity of top Atlanta lawyers working pro bono, every dollar raised will go towards filing fees to help these deserving individuals. Please consider supporting this worthy new program and helping some of our city’s most vulnerable help themselves. Please contact Rebekah LeMon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404.228.7718 if you have any questions.