First, the good news — thanks to Georgia Campaign for Liberty activists like you, who called and emailed Cobb’s elected officials, great progress has been made in the cases of two young men accused of infractions against so-called “zero tolerance” laws.
Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds emailed one of our supporters to announce that the case against Andrew Williams has been dismissed!
Andrew, you will recall, had an ordinary Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) tool in his car, which was designed to help break car windows and cut seat belts so he could escape from his car in the event of an accident.
The tool was discovered during a warrantless search of his car following an anonymous tip, claiming his car smelled like marijuana. The police didn’t find any marijuana or other drugs, but they charged him with a felony for possession of a weapon on school property.
This is a tremendous victory for a young man who was facing some unpleasant dealings with the cold, cruel hand of the so-called “justice” system.
Although the damage to Andrew’s reputation and peace of mind cannot be fully restored, at least he can now try to move on with his life.
It will be some comfort to him that thousands of Georgians called on Vic Reynolds to do the right thing.
Now, the bad news — in the same email, Vic Reynolds stated that the case against Cody Chitwood was placed in Diversion at his lawyer’s request. The charges have not been dropped outright.
Cody’s “crime”? He left a Fourth of July firecracker and a tackle box in his car in the parking lot of Lassiter High School. The tackle included some knives for cleaning fish.
This “contraband” was discovered during a warrantless search of students’ cars in the parking lot when a police dog picked up the scent of the perfectly legal firecracker.
Still, being in Diversion is better than going to trial, right?
Unfortunately, defendants in Diversion are often required to enter a guilty plea as a precondition of starting the process. This way, the court has a threat to wield against the defendant during Diversion.
Cody will have to attend many hours of hearings and snap meetings with various caseworkers. If he misses any of them, or fails to please the caseworkers in any way whatsoever, his guilty plea will be accepted and he will be sentenced.
Cody Chitwood is completely innocent of any crime. How is justice served by continuing this case, even in Diversion?
Unfortunately, these are just two of many cases that resulted from Georgia’s ridiculous “zero tolerance” laws.
These laws criminalize items that may be construed as weapons although there was no demonstrated intent to use them as such. Indeed, these laws may criminalize children’s drawings of weapons or certain toys resembling weapons, no matter how vaguely. Even sharing over-the-counter medication with a friend, such as an aspirin, can result in suspensions.
Georgia Campaign for Liberty does not call for “reform” of “zero commonsense” laws. We call for their outright repeal and are working with legislators to accomplish this.
It is high time that Georgia public schools stop turning innocent children into criminals for perfectly innocent acts. It is high time that administrators cease enforcing senseless, knee-jerk “zero tolerance” policies that turn Georgia public schools into garrisons.
Georgia State Coordinator
Campaign for Liberty
Recruit, Equip, Train, Mobilize
P.S. Although several recent high-profile cases have been dismissed or sent to Diversion, there are thousands of children in Georgia’s public schools under threat of suspension or expulsion for unintentional violations of so-called “zero tolerance” policies.