Emmy Williams

  • Hosted by Georgia Justice Project
  • Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, UPS, Inc.
  • Service location Atlanta, Georgia
  • Law school Harvard Law School
  • Issue area Community/Economic Development, Criminal Justice Reform
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Emmy enforces and improves Georgia licensure laws through the representation of clients with criminal records, policy advocacy, and rights education to expand access to employment and reduce the collateral impact of mass incarceration. 

By virtue of having a criminal record, more than one-third of Georgia residents are effectively barred from government-licensed professions, despite a recent Georgia law requiring otherwise.  In Georgia, roughly 40% of common low-income professions are licensed, and 14% of workers overall need a license.  Access to stable employment is key to economic empowerment, successful reentry, and reducing the collateral consequences of a criminal record.  The barriers of a criminal record to gainful employment are most harshly felt by overpoliced black and brown communities in Georgia, as well as low-income Georgians. 

As a Southerner, Emmy feelstrongly about opposing injustice in her home region, especially the consequences of the racially oppressive and unjust criminal legal system.  She is thankful to Georgia Justice Project for sharing these values and is thrilled to work with Georgians with criminal records to expand access to employment and economic stability for all Georgians. 

Fellowship Plans

Emmy will represent Georgians with criminal records who are applying for licenses to work or appealing the denial of a license.  Through direct representation and outreach to licensing boards, she will work to enforce recent reforms to Georgia’s occupational licensing scheme.  She plans to advocate for further reform to Georgia’s occupational licensing laws, such as removing vague statutory requirements, increasing transparency in the licensing process, and creating affirmative paths to licensure for people with criminal records.  She will also develop and distribute resources and guidance for people with records who are considering or already pursuing employment in licensed fields. 

As I serve clients at Georgia Justice Project who face irrational, unjust barriers to employment, stability, and reentry, I hope to amplify their voices and stories as examples of those fighting for change and justice in Georgia and across the South.

Emmy Williams /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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