Middle school students from the Rochester City School District are getting a unique opportunity to learn about the justice system from lawyers and judges through the new “Just Law” initiative this school year.
“I think to a lot of young people in today’s society fear the justice system. What they know of it is more negative than positive and I think it’s incumbent of those of us that work in the justice system to show them that that’s not the case and that good things do happen here,” said New York State Supreme Court Justice Craig Doran.
In turn, students are able to ask questions and share their own perspectives.
The 500 students were then tasked with writing an essay answering what justice means to them. Twelve winners were chosen and received prizes, including the chance to walk around the Hall of Justice, visit the administrative judge's office and sit in on court cases.
Now students now say they can envision themselves becoming a judge, lawyer or police officer in the future.
“Our country isn’t just to protect the country. We have to protect the people we love and the families we love who hope to do successful things,” said 11-year-old Luis Collazo.
These students will continue to be mentored by court leaders and members of the Rochester Black Bar Association. Judge Doran says he hopes the program continues for years to come.