I believe in the American promise because a story like mine isn’t possible anywhere else.
But I also know that our country doesn’t always live up to this promise—that for too many, the justice system has been profoundly unjust.
My name is Christian Wise Smith and I’m an attorney, non-profit founder, children’s book author, husband, father, and for seven years, I proudly served as a prosecutor with heart, but at 17 almost no one would have guessed this path for me.
My earliest memories are of my mother being arrested and taken away from me. As a seven-year-old, I saw my grandmother strip-searched and arrested. I’ve missed meals. I’ve slept on floors and in cars, and was kicked out of high school at 17. I’ve seen family members’ lives shattered by drugs, violence and murder and I didn’t see a future for myself that didn’t involve the system.
But thanks to a trusted police officer and mentor, I started to believe the promise of America applied to me, too.
I became the first in my family to graduate from college. I went on to earn a Master’s degree in Hospital Administration and a law degree.
I served as an Assistant Prosecutor here in Fulton County, Georgia, but when I was first offered that opportunity I sat down and talked with my family first. We had seen that the American justice system hadn’t always lived up to its promises and I wanted to be sure I could take this job and be true to my ideals.
With their encouragement, I realized we may never have a criminal justice system worthy of its name without more prosecutors with my perspective.
Being a prosecutor with heart means knowing when to bring the full weight of justice to the dangerous and the corrupt and when to give someone a second chance. As Assistant District Attorney, I learned through personal experience that we can be tough on serious crime without compromising on doing what is right.
In 2013, I had a drug case involving a 17-year-old. I talked to him and his mother about his dreams—and realized he was very much like me at his age. I wanted him to have a second chance, too, so I created a diversion program not only for him to earn a dismissal, but to still have a chance at the life he wanted for himself. He completed the program and in 2014 his mother emailed me to let me know he was enrolled in a junior college. In 2015 she reached out to let me know that he transferred to the University of Tennessee where he played football. And in 2018, I attended his college graduation. That change was possible because there was someone there who could see Justin as a person and not just a number.
That’s the same philosophy that I’ve taken into my work in the non-profit sector. As the founder of the National Social Justice Alliance we’ve created programs to unite prosecuting attorneys across the country to end police brutality and increase voter education.
And when it comes to voting, Georgia is at a crossroads and the entire nation is watching. After Black voters stepped up to the ballot box to help turn Georgia blue in the last Senate election, outrageous voter suppression laws were passed — and what is our attorney general doing? He’s defending these laws that suppress the rights of Georgia voters.
The attorney general of Georgia has great power and it’s time it was used for the people.
I am running to be the people’s lawyer, where each and every day I can strive to uphold the American promise that we are all equal, that we can achieve true justice for all.
I hope I can count on you to join me in this race and change the face of justice in Georgia.
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