Non-profit

Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR)

Website:

www.schr.org/

Location:

ATLANTA, GA

Tax ID:

62-1025326

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2021):

Revenue: $4,590,765
Expenses: $4,701,368
Assets: $15,878,982

Type:

Legal Organization

Formation:

1976

Executive Director:

Terrica Redfield Ganzy

Budget (2022):

Revenue: $5,933,800
Expenses: $5,710,844
Assets: $13,129,836 1

References

  1. Southern Center For Human Rights. ProPublica. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/621025326

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

The Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) is a legal organization founded in 1976 to oppose the death penalty and crimes it says are related to poverty and racial imbalances. 1 Originally called the Southern Prisoners Defense Committee, it regularly takes on cases of individuals on death row or those who claim they are unjustly imprisoned. 2

SCHR has won multiple cases at the U.S. Supreme Court overturning death penalty rulings by lower courts, including at least one directly related to proving racial bias in jury selection. 3 It also partners with like-minded organizations to change public opinion about various matters related to the criminal justice system. 4 Its reports are often widely cited by the press, including a 2022 report about the Fulton County jail where it claimed malnutrition, neglect, and abuse are widespread. 5 6  

Left-of-center foundations make up a significant portion of SCHR’s funding. 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Background

The Southern Center for Human Rights was founded after the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty. The group moved its headquarters to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1982. It describes itself as responding to alleged slavery after the U.S. Civil War which it says was informally instituted by “Southern aristocracy” through policing, punishment work, and other law enforcement and criminal justice practices. 14

While it was started to oppose the death penalty in the South, it has since expanded into other areas of criminal justice. Its self-published book about its history highlighted helping a man whose public defender didn’t realize he was in jail after charges were dismissed, and helping a woman leave a detention center because she was too poor to pay a $705 fine that resulted in her being imprisoned in an overnight state facility. 15

Major Cases

The Southern Center for Human Rights claims credit for five U.S. Supreme Court cases which overturned death penalty decisions and one Georgia Supreme Court case which led to ending the use of the electric chair to carry out the death penalty. 16 Three of those cases were won by longtime president Stephen Bright, including a 2015 case where a mentally disabled black man was given a new trial after Bright proved racial discrimination by the prosecution. Bright’s client spent 28 years on death row before the Court ordered a new trial. 17

It also played a significant research and litigation role in the state of Georgia creating a statewide office for public defenders for the first time in 2003. 18

Other Initiatives

The Southern Center for Human Rights opposes construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Facility, also called “Cop City” by opponents, signing a letter along with other left-of-center groups who claim that opponents’ signatures for a ballot referendum about construction of the Safety Facility may have been illegally invalidated. 19

After police were found innocent in the shooting of an environmentalist protester who opposed clearing forest to construct the Safety Facility, SCHR was one of three organizations which submitted a claim to an international court claiming that the protester’s human rights were violated. 20 Police claimed the protester fired on them first, injuring an officer. The protester’s family hired an outside investigator whose report claimed that the protester was sitting with his hands up. 21

SCHR has also used former U.S. President Donald Trump’s election interference trial in Fulton County, Georgia to generate attention about allegedly poor conditions at the prison where Trump was formally booked. Its 2022 report claiming malnutrition, lice outbreaks, unnecessary inmate deaths, and other issues was cited by major media outlets after the booking. 22 23 SCHR praised the U.S. Department of Justice for investigating the jail after a woman’s death in 2023, saying it had been filing lawsuits about conditions at the institution for years. 24

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which ended the national purported right to abortion in America, a spokesperson for SCHR was quoted at length about how being on probation risked women’s ability to cross state lines to abort a baby. 25 That spokesperson, Page Dukes, is a former convict who spent 10 years in prison for an armed robbery she blamed on a heroin addiction and who was able to secure the right to vote in 2020 after a lawyer helped her secure early release from probation. The Southern Poverty Law Center quoted Dukes as saying that because felons are counted in the Census, they should never lose the right to vote. 26

Influence

Former Southern Center for Human Rights SCHR attorney Lauren Sudeall joined the organization as a Soros Fellow, then as a staff attorney, then as a board member after having worked as a law clerk for then-left-of-center U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. She was announced as a Vanderbilt Law faculty member in 2023, a role which included launching a program to expand poor Americans’ access to legal representation. 27

In 2021, former SCHR executive director Sara Totonchi was named director of research and policy for Stacey Abrams’s Georgia gubernatorial campaign. Abrams was the Democratic Party’s nominee. 28

In 2003, a former SCHR employee became a Program Manager for an Open Society Foundations-affiliated group, The Gideon Project. 29

Leadership

Terrica Redfield Ganzy is the Southern Center for Human Rights’ executive director. A longtime attorney, she previously focused on SCHR’s death penalty representation in Georgia and Alabama. She has received several awards for her advocacy and sat on numerous law group boards. 30

Allen Garret, Jr. is SCHR’s board chair. His career has largely focused on consumer protection and corporate law. 31

Stephen Bright has been SCHR’s president for 40 years. A visiting professor at Yale and Georgetown law schools, he is the author of Too Much Justice. In a 2023 law school lecture, he said the justice system discriminates based on income. 32 The book itself also examines the impact of race on America’s justice system, including application of the death penalty. 33

Financials

The Southern Center for Human Rights earned $5.93 million in 2022, spent $5.71 million, and held $13.5 million in assets. 34

Over its existence, it has received donations from left-of-center nonprofits such as The Proteus Fund and the Open Society Institute, as well as $150,000 from Blaustein Philanthropic Group, $1,750,000 from The Atlantic Philanthropies, and $500,000 from the Public Welfare Foundation. 35 36 37 38 39 40

Foundations provided over one-third of SCHR’s 2021 revenue, which was over $7 million. 41

References

  1. Who We Are. Southern Center for Human Rights. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.schr.org/who-we-are/
  2. “The Struggle of a Lifetime.” Southern Center for Human Rights. 2021. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.schr.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/2020-2021-Annual-Report.pdf
  3. Blau, Max. “After Supreme Court victory, Stephen Bright won’t rest his defense of the poor and the powerless.” Atlanta Magazine. May 23, 2016. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.atlantamagazine.com/news-culture-articles/after-u-s-supreme-court-victory-stephen-bright-wont-rest-his-defense-of-the-poor-and-the-powerless/
  4. History. Southern Center for Human Rights. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.schr.org/who-we-are/history/
  5. Charalambous, Peter. “Trump to be booked at Georgia’s notorious Fulton County Jail at center of DOJ probe.” ABC News. August 21, 2023. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://abcnews.go.com/US/trump-booked-notorious-fulton-county-jail-center-doj/story?id=102375861
  6. Halpert, Madeline and Epstein, Kayla. ‘Trump’s time in Fulton County Jail was brief. Others die waiting.” BBC. August 24, 2023. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-66443927
  7. “The Struggle of a Lifetime.” Southern Center for Human Rights. 2021. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.schr.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/2020-2021-Annual-Report.pdf
  8. Southern Center For Human Rights. Proteus Fund. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.proteusfund.org/grant/southerncenterforhumanrights-2/
  9. Southern Center for Human Rights. Blaustein Philanthropic Group. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://blaufund.org/southern-center-for-human-rights-3/
  10. Southern Center for Human Rights. The Atlantic Philanthropies. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.atlanticphilanthropies.org/grantees/southern-center-for-human-rights
  11. “Public Welfare Foundation Announces New Grants.” Public Welfare. May 24, 2022. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.publicwelfare.org/resource/public-welfare-foundation-announces-new-grants-10/
  12. Lauren Sudeall. Open Society Foundations. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/grants/soros-justice-fellowships?fellow=lauren-sudeall&filter_year=2023&current=1
  13. “Paper: U.S. Fails to Provide Adequate Legal Services for Poor People.” Open Society Foundations. March 12, 2023. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/newsroom/paper-us-fails-provide-adequate-legal-services-poor-people
  14. “Justice Taking Root.” Southern Center for Human Rights. 2016. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.schr.org/files/post/files/Justice-Taking-Root-40-Year-History-of-SCHR.pdf
  15. “Justice Taking Root.” Southern Center for Human Rights. 2016. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.schr.org/files/post/files/Justice-Taking-Root-40-Year-History-of-SCHR.pdf
  16. Death Penalty. Southern Center for Human Rights. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.schr.org/death-penalty/
  17. Blau, Max. “After Supreme Court victory, Stephen Bright won’t rest his defense of the poor and the powerless.” Atlanta Magazine. May 23, 2016. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.atlantamagazine.com/news-culture-articles/after-u-s-supreme-court-victory-stephen-bright-wont-rest-his-defense-of-the-poor-and-the-powerless/
  18. “Executive Summary Status of Indigent Defense in Georgia: A Study for the Chief Justice’s Commission on Indigent Defense, Part I.” Michigan State Appellate Defender Office. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.sado.org/fees/georgia_part_1.pdf
  19.  Atlanta City Council to Mayor Andre P. Dickens. February 29, 2024. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.naacpldf.org/wp-content/uploads/Referendum-and-SB63-Sign-On-Draft-Letter-Clean-Finalized-with-Logos-3.pdf
  20. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, the Southern Center for Human Rights, and the University of Dayton Human Rights Center to Tania Reneaum Panszi. April 4, 2024. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://rfkhr.imgix.net/asset/Manuel-Teran-IACHR-Petition-Filed-4.5.24.pdf
  21. Procter, Aungelique. “No charges for Georgia State troopers who killed activist at Atlanta Public Safety Training Center site.” Fox 5 Atlanta. October 6, 2023. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/no-charges-troopers-manuel-esteban-teran-tortuguita-death-cop-city-atlanta
  22. Charalambous, Peter. “Trump to be booked at Georgia’s notorious Fulton County Jail at center of DOJ probe.” ABC News. August 21, 2023. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://abcnews.go.com/US/trump-booked-notorious-fulton-county-jail-center-doj/story?id=102375861
  23. Halpert, Madeline and Epstein, Kayla. ‘Trump’s time in Fulton County Jail was brief. Others die waiting.” BBC. August 24, 2023. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-66443927
  24. “SCHR Statement on the Department of Justice Investigation into Conditions at the Fulton County Jail” Southern Center for Human Rights. July 13, 2023. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.schr.org/schr-statement-on-department-of-justice-investigation-into-conditions-at-the-fulton-county-jail/
  25. Piper French, “For thousands of Georgians, freely traveling across state lines for an abortion is not an option,” Bolts Magazine. July 25, 2022. Accessed April 29, 2024. https://boltsmag.org/georgia-abortion-ban-probation-parole-travel-restrictions/
  26. Esther Schrader, “Shadow of Jim Crow: Georgia activists fight for voting rights for people with felony convictions,” Southern Poverty Law Center. May 13, 2022. Accessed April 29, 2024.  https://www.splcenter.org/news/2022/05/13/shadow-jim-crow-georgia-activists-fight-voting-rights-people-felony-convictions
  27. Renshaw, Grace. “Lauren Sudeall to Join Vanderbilt Law Faculty in summer 2023.” Vanderbilt University Law School. November 28, 2022. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://law.vanderbilt.edu/lauren-sudeall-to-join-vanderbilt-law-faculty-in-summer-2023/
  28. Sara J. Totonchi. Women’s Media Center. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://womensmediacenter.com/shesource/expert/sara-j.-totonchi
  29. “OSI Announces Senior Staff Changes.” Open Society Foundations. August 11, 2002. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/newsroom/osi-announces-senior-staff-changes
  30. Terrica Redfield Ganzy. Southern Center for Human Rights. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.schr.org/people/terrica-redfield-ganzy/
  31. C. Allen Garret, Jr. Southern Center for Human Rights. Accessed April 28 2024. https://www.schr.org/people/c-allen-garret-jr/
  32. Wart, Annie. “Acclaimed Author Stephen Bright Talks Inequality and Injustice in his Book ‘Fear of Too Much Justice.’ “ Santa Clara University School of Law. December 4, 2023. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://law.scu.edu/news/acclaimed-author-stephen-bright-talks-inequality-and-injustice-in-his-book-fear-of-too-much-justice/
  33. About the Book. The Fear of Too Much Justice. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.thefearoftoomuchjustice.com/book
  34. Southern Center For Human Rights. ProPublica. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/621025326
  35. Southern Center For Human Rights. Proteus Fund. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.proteusfund.org/grant/southerncenterforhumanrights-2/
  36. Southern Center for Human Rights. Blaustein Philanthropic Group. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://blaufund.org/southern-center-for-human-rights-3/
  37. Southern Center for Human Rights. The Atlantic Philanthropies. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.atlanticphilanthropies.org/grantees/southern-center-for-human-rights
  38. “Public Welfare Foundation Announces New Grants.” Public Welfare. May 24, 2022. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.publicwelfare.org/resource/public-welfare-foundation-announces-new-grants-10/
  39. Lauren Sudeall. Open Society Foundations. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/grants/soros-justice-fellowships?fellow=lauren-sudeall&filter_year=2023&current=1
  40. “Paper: U.S. Fails to Provide Adequate Legal Services for Poor People.” Open Society Foundations. March 12, 2023. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/newsroom/paper-us-fails-provide-adequate-legal-services-poor-people
  41. “The Struggle of a Lifetime.” Southern Center for Human Rights. 2021. Accessed April 28, 2024. https://www.schr.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/2020-2021-Annual-Report.pdf
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: June 1, 1978

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2021 Dec Form 990 $4,590,765 $4,701,368 $15,878,982 $183,819 N $4,014,117 $24,616 $208,114 $569,974
    2020 Dec Form 990 $7,259,128 $4,180,993 $15,390,945 $179,271 N $5,654,233 $241,318 $146,978 $682,662
    2019 Dec Form 990 $6,126,008 $3,751,690 $11,545,746 $384,851 N $4,723,296 $805,882 $154,959 $151,979 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $3,616,842 $3,289,680 $8,387,378 $134,890 Y $2,839,044 $506,943 $191,796 $116,315 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $3,164,505 $2,747,262 $8,835,111 $49,894 N $2,591,571 $315,371 $162,618 $160,700 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $2,289,082 $2,333,959 $7,574,370 $53,719 N $2,129,145 $32,742 $152,388 $130,867 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $1,675,352 $2,323,312 $7,251,476 $30,549 N $1,329,666 $244,050 $131,955 $114,248 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $3,976,916 $2,257,976 $8,055,197 $29,476 N $3,637,707 $40,366 $193,182 $112,008 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $2,985,092 $2,340,989 $6,381,900 $26,436 N $2,401,488 $321,181 $178,110 $112,008 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $3,668,105 $2,060,091 $5,650,175 $36,026 N $3,154,114 $423,193 $130,655 $88,400 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $2,005,726 $1,972,921 $3,936,027 $13,908 N $1,833,635 $90,756 $85,283 $88,400 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR)

    60 WALTON STREET NW
    ATLANTA, GA 30303