Dekalb County Leadership

The justice system of DeKalb, Georgia’s fourth largest county, has added Sheriff Melody Maddox to create a powerhouse team of leaders. 

Pictured above, and shared with permission, is the elected leadership of the DeKalb County Justice System. 

Chief Magistrate Judge Barryl Anderson,

Solicitor General Donna Coleman-Stribling,

District Attorney Sherry Boston

Superior Court Chief Judge Asha Jackson

Clerk of Superior Court Debra DeBerry

and as of December 1, 2019, the newly appointed, Sheriff Melody Maddox.

These women make up the majority of the criminal justice system including the top ranking law enforcement officer in DeKalb County, Sheriff Maddox.  The countywide elected prosecutors for both felonies (District Attorney Boston) and misdemeanors (Solicitor General Coleman-Stribling).  The Chief Judges Anderson and Jackson that handle cases ranging from traffic tickets to felony murder.  And the Clerk of Superior Court (Madam Clerk DeBerry) who ties the entire system together.  

Is this a first in America?  Certainly, it is rare to have this number of women, this number of minorities, and this number of black women at the helm of an entire system of justice.  Particularly a justice system as large as DeKalb County which is home to more than 750,000 residents.  What an opportunity to raise the bar for justice in an urban American city! 

“Why does everything have to do with race or gender?” I can hear someone rolling their eyes as they ask this question out in the cyber-verse.  This unprecedented combination is special for a variety of reasons. 

This group of women shows progress.  There are people who do not think America has progressed at all.  There are others who believe America has moved too far.  No matter where one sits on the spectrum, this group is evidence that our country is maturing away from its race-based beginnings. 

As both minorities and women, these leaders will bring a perspective that was initially excluded and later ignored in our criminal justice process.  White, Christian, males created our justice system and frankly … they did somethings well and other things horribly.  However, uplifting the new face of the DeKalb County justice system is not about vilifying the descendants of those white, Christian, male, founding fathers. 

The DeKalb County leaders’ perspectives will give them an opportunity to fix the portions of our system that was built on the prison industrial complex and mass incarceration.  Unfortunately for them, they must start with the system they have inherited.  

They must also navigate things beyond their control from finances to politics.  Which is why I will be patient with them.  Just like the imperfect humans that led before this group of black women, there will be ups and downs, successes and failures, good decisions and missteps.  

If DeKalb County sticks with this group of leaders to give them time to make a significant change, the results could be amazing.  I’m a true believer that we can have a fiscally responsible, restorative justice based system, that serves all the people equally.  I believe these leaders can help to show us how!

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