South Fulton, Georgia, has only existed for a little over a year. But it’s already in the record books for accomplishing something amazing.
In every department in the city that deals with criminal justice, the head of that department is an African American female. This is the first time that any city, in the entire history of the United States, has had all of its criminal justice departments headed by black women.
The Chief of Police is Sheila Rogers; Chief Judge is Tiffany Carter Sellers; the City Solicitor is LaDawn “LBJ” Jones, who serves as the head prosecutor for the city; and the Public Defender is Viveca Famber Powell. The court administrator and three court clerks, all appointed by Sellers, are also African American women.
It is a monumental feat to have accomplished this in the fifth largest city in the state. But it wasn’t a planned event — the stars just happened to align the right way, as each woman is more than well-qualified for the role in which they serve.
The women know how important this is to their community, and indeed to others across the country. “Our goal is to ensure justice for everyone,” Sellers explained. “However, as African American women we are sensitive to the history of criminal justice in our country. We want to be an example of how to do things right.”
The city isn’t just “talking the talk” — they’re also instituting remarkable reforms, including a diversion program to keep low-level law-breakers out of the city’s jails.
“One of the primary purposes of laws is to protect citizens and the city. You can do that without sending everyone to jail or enforce high fees,” Jones said. “Most people do better when they know better.”
The state of Georgia itself could elect its first black female governor this fall. South Fulton has certainly paved the way to showing how black women can lead in the executive departments in their city.
This trend should continue in communities across the country, as it allows a diversity of ideas to move to the forefront of our politics, making government more inclusive and representative of the people it serves.
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