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Here's a quarter -- call someone who cares

Organizers of a graphic campaign aimed at pressuring Gov. Roy Barnes to clean up Georgia's juvenile detention centers say the drive has garnered thousands of signature cards and resulted in hundreds of calls to Barnes' office — no matter what his staff says. The Georgia Alliance for Children's "Call the Governor" campaign, launched nearly three months ago, is deliberately shocking. Its TV spots feature quick images of children's battered, tear-stained faces cowering in darkened cells. The print ads are even tougher: One shows a pair of tiny black feet, shoved absurdly to the tip of an oversized pair of rubber sandals, linked together by enormous steel shackles. Another features a child, clad only in a pair of baggy pants, curled on a concrete floor.

"You're in an 8-by-10 cell with four thugs twice your size," reads the caption. "You would scream, but the underwear your grandmother sent is stuffed in your mouth." Both print and TV versions end with the same plea: "Yell. Act. Call the governor," and the phone number for Barnes' office.

The ads are meant to build on the momentum provided by a recent report by a court-appointed independent monitor detailing high rates of violence, sexual assault and suicide in some of Georgia's youth-detention centers.

"This system's doing incredible harm to these kids," says alliance president Rick McDevitt. "The only solution is for the governor to put his weight behind changing it."

Barnes spokeswoman Jocelyn Butler says the office only got "about eight" calls in response to the ads.

"That's ridiculous," says McDevitt. "I know that, between just my staff and myself, we've called many more times than that. And I have calling lists from several churches logging more than 300 calls."

When a CL staffer called to express concern about issues raised in the ads, she was referred to the Department of Juvenile Justice, where a staffer responded, "Looks like if the governor's number is in the ad. The governor's office ought to be taking these calls."

McDevitt says the alliance has gathered more than 12,000 signed cards demanding changes in the juvenile justice system and will soon deliver them to Barnes' office.





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