Letters to the editor 

Don't call me a 'hanging judge'

Mr. Wheatley's article about Clayton County was well-written and researched ("The little county that couldn't," cover story, July 23). I did willingly speak to him while he was researching his article but was not quoted in the article. Because I was not so quoted, I would like to respond to the statement in his article about Ms. Scott's campaign mailers referring to me as a "hanging judge" with some facts. Of the 6,000 delinquent and unruly charges filed in the Clayton County Juvenile Court in 2007, only 150 children received detention time at disposition (sentencing) and that included both mine and those of Judge Steven Teske. Those that were detained had normally committed violent offenses or were frequent repeat offenders who had failed to be rehabilitated. Our Juvenile Court has been named a national model court and has received a national award. I received the Clayton County Branch of the NAACP's Trailblazer Award in 2007. This year I started a Second Chance Drug Court for high-risk male offenders who would otherwise be in detention. We have reduced disproportionate minority confinement among juvenile offenders by 50 percent and of that 50 percent, 80 percent of the children were African-American, where the target population is 75 percent. To call me a "hanging judge" is a blatant misrepresentation. I have lived in my county for 25 years and have been a public servant there for 23 years; first serving as an assistant district attorney and now as a juvenile court judge for nearly 13 years. On Aug. 5 Clayton County voters will determine their future. I hope they choose wisely.

– Tracy Graham Lawson, Jonesboro


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