ATLANTA – Today, the Superior Court of Elbert County granted the ACLU of Georgia’s motion to waive the nearly $9,000 in fines and fees of the probation of Charles “Skip” Eckartz, a 63-year-old disabled Vietnam veteran. Mr. Eckartz and his wife survive on a fixed monthly income of $966, which comes from Social Security and VA disability benefits. His financial position made it impossible for him to pay the probation fees and fines. Georgia has the highest probation rate in the nation, and probation violations send people back to prison at an alarming rate.
While serving in the Air Force in Vietnam, Mr. Eckartz suffered a broken back and thigh from jumping out of a helicopter. Although cannabis oil, which is legal in the state of Georgia, is an effective treatment for his injuries, it remains legally unavailable.
In addition, the court granted the ACLU of Georgia’s motion to permit Mr. Eckartz to obtain legally available medical treatment options that his doctor prescribes where he lives in Florida, including THC oil and medical marijuana which are legal in that state. The court also ordered that Mr. Eckartz’ probation be allowed to terminate three years early, thereby reducing probation to two years total.
“Needlessly putting people on lengthy probation terms and imposing exorbitant fines is wrong and unjust,” stated Sean J. Young, Legal Director of the ACLU of Georgia. “We believe that this is a just outcome, especially because Mr. Eckartz will also be able to obtain the medical marijuana he needs for his combat-related disability.”