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AJC Investigates

Georgia justice

Judges push legal limits on probation
Curtis Compton

Lives upended as judges push legal limits

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When Adel Edwards appeared before Judge Joshua Bell in a tiny municipal court in rural Georgia, it was hardly the crime of the century. Edwards was accused of burning leaves in his yard without a permit. But the judge didn’t treat the matter lightly. He ordered Edwards, who is disabled and lives on food stamps, to pay a $500 fine, spend 12 months on probation and pay a private probation company another $44 a month to “supervise” him.

About 200 miles away, in downtown Atlanta, Coren Tucker was among hundreds of people summoned to appear at Atlanta Municipal Court last month.

ON THE WATCHDOG BLOG

Georgia assisted suicide group facing trial this week

Jury selection begins today for Final Exit Network and its 87-year-old medical director, accused of helping a Minnesota woman to kill herself in 2007. At first, the woman was thought to have died of natural causes, The Minnesota Star-Tribune reports. But after GBI provided information about the nonprofit, it and several individuals were indicted.

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Safety of children

Many summer camps in Ga. avoid oversight
Jonathan Phillips

Many summer camps in Ga. avoid oversight

Summer is on the horizon and for tens of thousands of Georgia kids that means camp.

Horseback riding, swimming, music, science, sports; today’s camp offerings provide kids a smorgasbord of choices.

But an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation found that more than 900 summer camps in Georgia are exempt from state regulation, allowing them to legally avoid inspections, criminal background checks for employees and other safeguards designed to keep kids safe.

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Healthcare

Emanuel Women’s Facility/Dr. Yvon Nazaire
Georgia Southern University, Georgia Department of Corrections

Deaths of two women inmates put focus on Georgia prison doctor

For weeks, they grew sicker, two women in a Georgia prison on the verge of dying. One with an abdomen so distended she looked pregnant. Another so jaundiced her skin was yellow.

At Emanuel Women’s Facility in the summer of 2011, it was clear that Peggy Leigh Walker and Sharon Diane Blalock needed a doctor’s attention, and quickly. When it never came, worry spread.

DeKalb County

$4K payment at issue in latest DeKalb probe

Soon after DeKalb County paid for repairs at Commissioner Lee May’s home, the man who arranged the work says he was tapped to help May with his personal financial troubles.

May was swimming in debt and in the midst of bankruptcy. Doug Cotter said the County Commission’s chief of staff, Morris Williams, asked him for a favor. Could he help a commissioner out?

State government

Feds challenge payments to nursing homes

Federal officials have handed the state a bill that could ultimately top $200 million for payments to nursing homes that the government said were not permitted by Medicaid regulations.

The government requested the state return $104.5 million it says was paid to a group of private nursing homes in fiscal 2010 and 2011. But it also requested any similar payments be returned from fiscal 2012 and 2013.


APS cheating scandal

Beverly Hall dies; criminal case — and her legacy — unresolved

Beverly L. Hall, the former Atlanta schools superintendent whose renown as an education reformer dissolved amid the ignominy of the nation’s largest test-cheating scandal, died Monday of breast cancer. She was 68.

Hall still faced criminal charges alleging she orchestrated a scheme to inflate achievement-test scores for thousands of Atlanta students, many of them the poor, minority children she professed to champion.

Health

slot3_021915 Chicken Pollution CC11
Curtis Compton

Few penalties, lax oversight for chicken plants that pollute

State favors self-regulation over fines for chicken processors. EPA finds multiple Clean Water Act violations at one plant.

One of Georgia’s largest chicken processors has for years exceeded pollution standards for storm water runoff feeding into Lake Lanier — a major source of drinking water for metro Atlanta — with few consequences from state regulators, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation has found.

» VIDEO: Where's the oversight?

Atlanta blight

Blighted property lands Buckhead investor in court
BEN GRAY / AJC

Buckhead investor could face jail over blighted property

UPDATE: The trial for Buckhead real estate investor Rick Warren was pushed back Monday morning so he could hire a criminal attorney to represent him. Warren, who bought up much of an impoversighed west Atlanta neighborhood, was scheduled to face a judge for conditions at a burned-out property near the English Avenue community. He is set for re-arraignment on May 18.


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