Youth Forward Scholarship 2017 – An Alternative To Putting Kids Through The System

Name: Joshua Benn
From: Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Grade: 11th
School: Broken Arrow High School
Votes: 0

Three
years ago I joined a volunteer organization called Youth Court where
we focused on helping young juvenile defenders have respect for the
rule of law, help develop positive citizenship attitudes, encourage
civic engagement, and promote educational success through a diversity
of service learning opportunities, strategies, and activities. All
that means is that young first-time offenders were given the
opportunity to avoid major court fees and permanent offenses on their
record by coming to Youth Court where us highschool teens tried them.

As
a Prosecutor I had the responsibility of looking over an in-depth
case file so I could formulate appropriate questions from police and
witness testimonies to help make my case in order to suggest
necessary punishments to the judge that align with the fullest
extent of the law. I expressed how these choices could change their
life and define them for years to come, so I took pride in what I did
and in helping them figure out their way in life.

As
a Defense Attorney, I had more resources at my disposal including the
police report, all of its testimonies, and also the defendant’s
story to help navigate me through the story using their perspective
which, ultimately, I used to navigate the judge in what the defendant
was going through at the time. By interviewing the Defendant, I knew
what questions to ask and which issues to avoid based on grades,
extracurriculars, home life, and whatever other information I could
use to persuade the judge to give the Defendant a mild yet fair
sentencing. As a Defense Attorney I could be there to help the
Defendant realize what he/she did wrong in that situation when they
are being scrutinized by the Prosecution. I played the morale support
role and helped the Defendant understand the implications that came
with their mistake and what they can do to make better decisions next
time.

As
a Judge everyone looks to you for guidance and answers, in an ironic
way, it can be intimidating. The judge receives no external resources
before the trial starts, it was my job to listen intently and pay
close attention to the Defendant’s story, the prosecution’s argument,
and the Defense’s argument to come to a final and fair decision. It
was a big responsibility choosing the Defendant’s consequence and
making sure that he/she receives an appropriate punishment that both
teaches and helps avoid future incidents through self-reflection,
positive reinforcement, and morale support.

I
found this type of community outreach program to be above all else
morally rewarding because I affected the lives of my communities
juvenile offenders on a personal level and in a positive way…tough
love if you think about it. I’d like to think that many of the dozens
of teens brought to us are now living civil lives with a bright
future because of what our organization, our public service, our
outreach program did to turn bad situations into a life altering good
ones.

Thank
You.


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