May 9, 2007,Atlanta,Georgia– On Monday, May 7th, 2007 State Court Judge Ronald E. Ginsberg sentenced attacker Charles Thomas Prickett to a three hundred dollar fine for the brutal beating of Travis McClain, a Savannahgay man. Prickett received credit for time served for his sentence of one year in jail, even though he did not serve any jail time, and his eighty hours of community service was waived.
“This watered down, pathetically weak, so-called‘sentence’ perfectly illustrates the need for a strong hate crimes law in our state,” stated Kevin Clark,Savannah’s representative on the Georgia Equality Board of Directors who attended the sentencing proceedings,“Charles Prickett should be sitting in jail for a long, long time for his brutal, hate-based attack on Travis McClain. Instead,our justice system has allowed him to escape punishment almost entirely – this is a total travesty of justice.”
After several meetings between Representatives of Georgia Equality andSavannah city leaders, Savannah City Council voted unanimously, on January 9, 2007, to pass an Anti-Discrimination Resolution for the City ofSavannah. Also in response to the March 2006 beating of Travis McClain, an openly lesbian police officer was appointed to serve as a liaison to the LGBT community. These actions by city officials assured the diverse citizens ofSavannah that these types of crimes will not be tolerated.
Unfortunately,the weak sentence handed down by judge Ginsberg sends quite a different message. This reckless decision to sentence attacker Charles Prickett to a three hundred dollar fine puts an entire community at increased risk of being harassed and even physically assaulted or worse. Hate-based crimes terrorize not only the actual victim but an entire group of people.
Georgia Equality has been lobbying for hate crimes legislation in the state and local arenas. In both the 2006 and 2007 Georgia Legislative session, Senator Vincent Fort led the way in successfully introducing hate crimes legislation but the bills did not make it through before the session ended. The passage of such legislation will provide government an additional tool in the fight against those who spread hate and hate motivated violence.
Please write or call the office of Judge Ronald Ginsberg expressing extreme displeasure with his sentencing of attacker Charles Prickett.