https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/po...r-justice-southern-city-their-own-way-n924116 SOUTH FULTON, Ga.— Inside the municipal courtroom here in this Atlanta suburb, a black man in his early 20s is begging the judge for a second chance. He's facing his third shoplifting conviction and, under Georgia state law, must serve a jail sentence. Defendants plead for a second (or third) chance in courtrooms across the country on a daily basis, but here in this majority African-American town, where the population is just over 100,000, the criminal justice system is unique: Black women are in charge, and they say they run things differently. LaDawn Blackett Jones is the city's solicitor, or prosecutor, Viveca Powell serves as public defender and Tiffany Carter Sellers is the chief judge. The court clerks and staff are also black women. "As people from around the country are looking at what is going on here, we are trying to set the example for the way true law and justice should work," Blackett Jones said. the only town of its size with black women overwhelmingly running the criminal justice system. Bill Edwards, the mayor, is black, as are Keith Meadows, the police chief, and the seven city council members — and five of them are women. Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory University in Atlanta, said that having black women lead the town's court system is significant in two ways. "African-American women usually play critical roles, and they haven't always been acknowledged," Gillespie said. "What's unique about his moment is that black women are getting that recognition." Gillespie added that having African-Americans in top government roles in a majority African-American city "can legitimize institutions in the mind of citizens." Blackett Jones, a native of the unincorporated area of South Fulton, said the city has torn down barriers not only for African-Americans, but for women as well. "Think about how many cities in America that are predominantly any one group, but are still run at all the top levels by heterosexual white Christian males," she said. "This is an American story. This is not just a black story, this is a woman's story. We have broken the mold for women as much as we have broken the mold for African-Americans." Powell, the public defender, said having black women at the wheel is helpful because "it eliminates the cultural gap" when dealing with African-American defendants. "I look at people as people and I expect fairness from everybody," said Powell, who has served as a criminal defense lawyer for 35 years. "But we clearly understand the dynamic of what goes on in the community —nobody has to explain it to us."