Elizabeth Rainwater

  • Hosted by Georgia Justice Project
  • Sponsored by The Clorox Company
  • Service location Atlanta, Georgia
  • Law school Samford University, Cumberland School of Law
  • Issue area Criminal Justice Reform
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Elizabeth works to reduce the staggering number of people serving extremely long and often unnecessary probation sentences in Georgia to promote successful reentry through policy reform, education, and direct representation.

Georgia has the highest rate of people under correctional control in the entire nation, and, on average, sentences individuals on probation nearly three times longer than other states. Black people are disparately impacted under Georgia’s probation system. Although Black people make up just 33% of Georgia’s population, of the 190,000(+) individuals serving probation, nearly 50% are Black people. From both a safety and cost perspective, Georgia’s staggering numbers are ineffective at improving outcomes for those individuals serving sentences and the community as a whole. Elizabeth works to create legislative and administrative changes to Georgia’s probation system. She also advocates for those serving excessively lengthy probation sentences, which will reduce the number of people on probation in Georgia.

Elizabeth’s faith is the driving force behind her passion to advocate for the overlooked and the oppressed. She knows personally what it means to have a great advocate and desires that every person in the criminal justice system knows what it means to have someone fight for them.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the first year of the Fellowship, Elizabeth has:

  • Provided research support to help pass a probation reform bill (SB 105) that became law on May 3, 2021. The bill sets clear criteria for early termination pathways for those on probation in Georgia.
  • Delivered presentations on Senate Bill 105 to over 300 Georgians including directly impacted individuals, attorneys, and probation officers.
  • Assisted two clients with receiving early termination of their probation sentence and five clients seeking expungement of their records.
  • Created educational materials to inform Georgians of their new rights under SB 105 and presented to 270 directly impacted individuals, attorneys, probation officers about the bill.
  • Provided advice to over 40 individuals about how SB 105 impacts their probation sentence.

Next Steps

In the next six months, Elizabeth plans to:

  • Complete a probation self-advocacy packet to help individuals seek relief under SB 105.
  • Begin conducting know-your-rights probation trainings in-person for community partners and stakeholders, with a focus on SB 105.
  • Represent individuals in early termination of felony probation hearings.
  • Create template motions and probation termination advocacy materials for attorneys.
  • Track and collect Senate Bill 105 implementation data to inform where further reform is needed.

Media

Pursuing a passion to lift people up

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