Vaccines That Keep the Monsters of the Past at Bay

In 1867, a yellow fever epidemic swept Memphis… Across the street from me, ten persons lay dead from the plague. The dead surrounded us. They were buried in night quickly and without ceremony. All about my house at night I could hear weeping and the cries of delirium. One by one, my four little children sickened and died.

Steve Reba: Adult by Fiat, Perseverance by Child

One of the first children—pardon me, one of the first thirteen-year-old adults—that  Georgia automatically transferred to the criminal justice system has spent more than half of his seventeen years in the hole.  

His knuckles bear the scars of an antipathy to abusive power and injustice, as does his disciplinary record.  And while his moral compass is quite in line with what passes for heroism on the outside, on the inside, such defense of principle usually leaves you bantering with desolation’s four walls. There was the correctional officer who took a stack of his neatly written letters asking for legal assistance that the boy was planning to send once he could afford postage. After tossing them on the ground, the officer urinated on the pleas for help in front of the seventeen-year-old.  Or, there was the klansman correctional officer at Alto who constantly referred to him as “nigger slave.” As you’ve likely deduced, his response to both resulted in injury to the officers, years in solitary, and retributive cruelty from the friends of those he beat, which kept the cycle spinning. His are the kind of prison offenses that make parole difficult.  In a history-written-by-those-who-conquer situation, facts of these incidents are generally not included in the summaries supplied to the parole board.

New Year, New Leadership: First Woman DJJ Commissioner Amy Howell Speaks

Governor-Elect Nathan Deal took office Monday in Georgia. In a surprise move just before the winter holidays, he tapped Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Deputy Commissioner Amy Howell to replace Garland Hunt as commissioner.  Howell is an alumna of Emory University’s Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic and a past president of the Young Lawyer’s  Division of the State Bar of Georgia. In her first formal interview late last week, she talked to’s Chandra Thomas about her plans at the helm of an agency facing more severe budget cuts in the coming year. Your appointment was a surprise to many in juvenile justice circles, was that the case for you too? I didn’t directly seek the appointment, but I have always made it known as the former president of the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia that I am open to new challenges.  I was really surprised because I have not been working with the agency for 30-plus years.

Fathers’ Rights Attorney to Head Office of the Child Advocate

A Cobb County lawyer who represents fathers in divorce and custody cases will be the next Director of Georgia’s Office of the Child Advocate. Governor-elect Nathan Deal has named Tonya Boga as the state’s child welfare watchdog. Boga lives in Marietta and is a partner in the Boga & Edwards Law Group.  Her law practice promises “Advocacy for Fathers who want to maintain a strong healthy relationship with their children.”

According to Boga’s profile, she’s a Juvenile Court Mediator, Guardian Ad Litem, and a member of the National Association of Counsel for Children.  She is past president of the Cobb County Bar Association Family Law Section.  She has two law degrees, including a Master of Laws from Loyola University in Chicago, and the University of Tennessee. Boga is also active in Republican politics.

Barton Center Appoints Melissa Carter as New Director

Melissa D. Carter is the new director of The Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory University, starting December 1.  She replaces Karen Worthington, the founding director, who recently left the Barton Center after ten years. Carter has a rich history as a child advocate.  She is currently Director of Georgia’s Office of the Child Advocate, and served as Deputy Director of the agency until last February, when Governor Perdue tapped her for the top post. Carter has worked as a private practice adoption lawyer, and chaired the State Bar’s Juvenile Law Committee.  While in law school, she worked as a student case manager with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and as a legislative assistant for the Children’s Rights Council in Washington, D.C.  Carter knows the work of the Barton Center well, since she served as a Post-Graduate Fellow in Law at the Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic. Read more about Melissa Carter in this news release.