Rhonda Cook

Reporter for Enterprise

Rhonda Cook is a native Georgian. She began reporting in 1978 with United Press International and joined the AJC in 1989 with the assignments to cover the Georgia Legislature, politics, state government, prisons and criminal justice matters. In the years since, she has specialized on the criminal justice system.

Latest from Rhonda Cook

Expert calls prison isolation unit ‘draconian’
 Conditions in the state prison system’s isolation unit are the “harshest and most draconian” of any in the country and it puts inmates at risk of “irreversible and even fatal harm,” according to an expert hired to appraise the special unit at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison. The report, written...

Posted: 5 days ago

Conditions in the state prison system’s isolation unit are the “harshest and most draconian” of any in the country and it puts inmates at risk of “irreversible and even fatal harm,” according to an expert hired to appraise the special unit at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison. The report, written...
Candidate for Georgia Court of Appeals gets judicial warning
 The commission that oversees Georgia judges has issued a warning that candidates for judgeships must remain non-partisan after an Atlanta lawyer running for the Georgia Court of Appeals said publicly that he is a Republican and his opponent is not. Georgia policy is that judicial races are non-partisan because judges are supposed to preside...

Posted: 7 days ago

The commission that oversees Georgia judges has issued a warning that candidates for judgeships must remain non-partisan after an Atlanta lawyer running for the Georgia Court of Appeals said publicly that he is a Republican and his opponent is not. Georgia policy is that judicial races are non-partisan because judges are supposed to preside...
18 Georgia children have killed themselves this year
 So far this year, 18 Georgia children and teenagers have taken their own lives, a pace that is comparable to last year, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “What it tells me is I don’t know if we’re making any progress in preventing teen suicides,” GBI Director Vernon Keenan said Thursday. According to...

Posted: 11 days ago

So far this year, 18 Georgia children and teenagers have taken their own lives, a pace that is comparable to last year, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “What it tells me is I don’t know if we’re making any progress in preventing teen suicides,” GBI Director Vernon Keenan said Thursday. According to...
Former GBI official faces federal charges for use of state credit card
 A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted a former top-ranking Georgia Bureau of Investigation official for allegedly charging more than $60,000 to state-issued purchasing cards. Putnam pleaded guilty in December to state charges similar to the federal crimes she is now accused of committing. The state’s case was closed when federal...

Posted: 13 days ago

A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted a former top-ranking Georgia Bureau of Investigation official for allegedly charging more than $60,000 to state-issued purchasing cards. Putnam pleaded guilty in December to state charges similar to the federal crimes she is now accused of committing. The state’s case was closed when federal...
Feds charge GBI inspector with theft, fraud
 A former inspector with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is facing federal charges for racking up tens of thousands of dollars in personal charges on her state-issued credit card. Sandra Putnam was indicted on four counts of mail fraud and three counts of federal program theft, according to an indictment handed down Tuesday. Putnam pleaded...

Posted: 13 days ago

A former inspector with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is facing federal charges for racking up tens of thousands of dollars in personal charges on her state-issued credit card. Sandra Putnam was indicted on four counts of mail fraud and three counts of federal program theft, according to an indictment handed down Tuesday. Putnam pleaded...
Robert Butts executed for 1996 murder. Final words: ‘It burns, man’
 Robert Earl Butts Jr. was put to death by lethal injection Friday at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison. He was pronounced dead at 9:58 p.m.  When asked for a final statement, Butts replied, “I’ve been drinking caffeine all day.” Then he declined an offer for a prayer.  Butts kept his eyes closed...

Posted: 17 days ago

Robert Earl Butts Jr. was put to death by lethal injection Friday at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison. He was pronounced dead at 9:58 p.m.  When asked for a final statement, Butts replied, “I’ve been drinking caffeine all day.” Then he declined an offer for a prayer.  Butts kept his eyes closed...
Condemned Georgia inmate’s last meal request 
 Robert Butts, who is scheduled to be executed Friday night, has requested hamburger, steak and chicken for his final meal. According to the Department of Corrections, Butts has asked for a bacon cheeseburger with American and cheddar cheese, a ribeye steak, six chicken tenders, seasoned french fries, cheesecake and strawberry lemonade...

Posted: 17 days ago

Robert Butts, who is scheduled to be executed Friday night, has requested hamburger, steak and chicken for his final meal. According to the Department of Corrections, Butts has asked for a bacon cheeseburger with American and cheddar cheese, a ribeye steak, six chicken tenders, seasoned french fries, cheesecake and strawberry lemonade...
Murdered Georgia man’s father thanks God inmate’s execution is back on 
 Not long after halting the scheduled execution of Georgia inmate Robert Earl Butts Jr., the State Board of Pardons and Paroles lifted its own stay, putting the death penalty wheels back in motion. Butts is now scheduled to die by lethal injection Friday at 7 p.m. Before the parole board issued a stay Wednesday night, Butts was expected...

Posted: 18 days ago

Not long after halting the scheduled execution of Georgia inmate Robert Earl Butts Jr., the State Board of Pardons and Paroles lifted its own stay, putting the death penalty wheels back in motion. Butts is now scheduled to die by lethal injection Friday at 7 p.m. Before the parole board issued a stay Wednesday night, Butts was expected...
Georgia inmate to be executed tonight
   A Georgia prisoner convicted of killing an off-duty prison guard is set to die by lethal injection Friday night. The state Board of Pardons and Paroles on Wednesday delayed Robert Earl Butts’ execution, issuing a stay in order to consider new information from the death row inmate’s lawyer. But on Thursday — just 18...

Posted: 18 days ago

  A Georgia prisoner convicted of killing an off-duty prison guard is set to die by lethal injection Friday night. The state Board of Pardons and Paroles on Wednesday delayed Robert Earl Butts’ execution, issuing a stay in order to consider new information from the death row inmate’s lawyer. But on Thursday — just 18...
Stay lifted in Georgia execution
 Eighteen hours after stopping the scheduled execution of Robert Earl Butts Jr., the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on Thursday lifted its own stay. He is now set to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Friday, state Department of Corrections officials said. In an unusual move, the parole board issued a 90-day stay Wednesday evening...

Posted: 18 days ago

Eighteen hours after stopping the scheduled execution of Robert Earl Butts Jr., the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on Thursday lifted its own stay. He is now set to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Friday, state Department of Corrections officials said. In an unusual move, the parole board issued a 90-day stay Wednesday evening...
Fulton DA’s office error hides files in APS cheating case
 The Fulton County district attorney’s office got the wrong person when it mistakenly agreed to seal one criminal record in the Atlanta test-cheating case, and that error also put the files of nearly three dozen other defendants out of public view for several weeks. The flub happened when prosecutors received a request to seal an...

Posted: 18 days ago

The Fulton County district attorney’s office got the wrong person when it mistakenly agreed to seal one criminal record in the Atlanta test-cheating case, and that error also put the files of nearly three dozen other defendants out of public view for several weeks. The flub happened when prosecutors received a request to seal an...