AJC Investigates

Consumer protection

Georgia tops nation for increase in auto insurance rates

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After years of stable premiums, Georgia’s biggest car insurance companies have been pummeling drivers with rate hikes over the past two years.

The increases are the largest in a decade for many of the companies, with some filing more than two rate hikes in a year. The result: Georgia led the nation in 2014 with the highest overall increase in personal auto insurance rates. The state ranked second overall in 2013.

It’s a throwback to the 1980s, when auto premiums were soaring 10 percent or more a year and rising faster than almost anywhere else in the U.


Big road-builder opened wallet to back transportation bill

Updated 3:23 p.m. — 

New campaign reports show Georgia’s top road contractor boosted the Georgia Chamber’s push for a $1 billion transportation bill during the 2015 legislative session.

Gas taxes went up Thursday. Ben Gray /

C.W. Matthews this week reported contributing $50,000 in February to the Georgia Transportation Alliance, the Chamber’s arm promoting spending increases on road, bridge and rail projects to ease traffic congestion.


Public safety

Despite victim requests, Grady withheld rape evidence from police
Brant Sanderlin

Locked Away: Grady withheld rape evidence from police

The stranger held the woman at gunpoint, forced her to perform oral sex, and then hit her in the face. Ten years later, Atlanta police are reviewing the case, after the state’s largest hospital finally turned over evidence it had withheld. Grady Memorial Hospital is home to the sole rape crisis center for Fulton County’s nearly 1 million residents.


Special report

.13 Seconds

Guns, not cars, now kill more Georgians

At the moment 2010 became 2011, Sergio Martinez stepped into his kitchen. Across the street, Ervin Turner Sr. raised his handgun to welcome the new year. In her living room, Martinez’s niece Marlen felt a curtain flutter, as if a sudden wind had entered the house.

The sound of gunfire. Breaking glass. A scream. And Georgia’s first casualty of gun violence in 2011.


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.

Over the line: Police shootings in Georgia

052015 police shooting2_slot1
Branden Camp

Shot in the back: An unarmed teen's death

» The latest: Fulton DA pledges to 'hold someone accountable'

» The call to action: Mother of slain teen confronts city officials

» The impact: Fulton, GBI reopen investigation into teen’s shooting

New evidence in the controversial shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a white Union City Police officer contradicts the official account and casts doubt on the officer’s justification for pulling his trigger, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News has found.

Union City Police Officer Luther Lewis shot Ariston Waiters twice in the back at close range while handcuffing the 19-year-old as he lay face down on the ground the night of Dec. 14, 2011. There were no witnesses to the shooting. Lewis claimed the teen went for his gun. But the supervising lieutenant on the scene told reporters that Lewis didn't mention a struggle for his gun and told a different story just after it happened.   » Videos: Channel 2's investigation, Part 1  |  Part 2


Blight case draws Atlanta mayor’s attention
Kent D. Johnson

Blight case draws Atlanta mayor’s attention

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed arrived in court Monday trailed by aides. The city’s top prosecutor stood before the judge. Fifteen witnesses crowded the jury box.

The accused: A Buckhead real estate investor.

The charges: Housing code violations.

Typically, housing court is a humble affair. Convictions usually result in a few hundred dollars in fines and fees.

Georgia justice

Lives upended as judges push legal limits

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.

With scenes like these in mind, the Georgia General Assembly passed a bill this spring designed to reform Georgia’s troubled misdemeanor probation system.  |  » More: List of fees can be long, questionable


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?


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AJC launches Breakdown, a new podcast series

AJC launches Breakdown, a new podcast series

Follow the twists and turns of a case that some say landed an innocent man in prison. Subscribers get exclusive access to new episodes each Sunday - plus digital extras including character backgrounds, video interviews, photo galleries, court documents and timelines.

Learn more