Law & Justice Conference For Students Focuses On Civil Rights
The idea of trying juveniles as adults and incarcerating them in adult prisons is a controversial issue. However one program here in North Central Florida is shedding light on the matter to prevent students from going down that path in the first place. The conference aims to keep the youth active and engaged in their communities.
The conference targets at-risk teenagers here in our area, so that they will leave this one-day event viewing themselves as stakeholders in the community.
Closing the gap, was this year's theme-- for a conference that hopes to shape the future of this generation. It’s the annual Law & Justice Conference 2014, the chairman AuBroncee Martin said, "There was a time that lawyers were looked as, as heroes... So that's what we're going for. Tell students that the law is useful... The law is really the glue that holds society together."
Students spent an activity-filled day with legal professionals, law students and community leaders to learn more about civil rights history. Melvin Carey a senior at Gainesville High School said, "I think the conference is great. It's good to understand what's going on as an outsider. And actually get to meet lawyers cause you don't just get to meet lawyers. All you do is see them at the court house doing criminal cases and stuff like that. So it's actually good to get to meet them outside of that."
The event was hosted by the Josiah T. Walls Bar Association, Inc. at the University of Florida's College of Law. Many speakers were at the event, one of them was Benjamin Crump who gained nationwide recognition for his role in the Trayvon Martin civil case as the martin family's attorney.
Lawyers weren't the only ones who were part of the program. Local judge, Stephan Mickle who was the first black student to graduate from UF, also took part in the event. "I think it's very important for students to be aware and have a full understanding of the way the law impacts them as it relates to their history," Judge Mickle said.
The Law and Justice Youth Conference brought together 100 local students for an interactive learning experience. Meshon Rawls a law professor at UF said, "Be examples so that they will know what it is to be a good citizen. And when we come out today and take the time to sit with them and talk to them, to do presentations... They actually get to see us in action and hopefully they can look at the things that we do and model some good behaviors."
The hope is that starting this dialogue will prevent future negative interactions with the legal system and inspire young students to be active and positive leaders in their community.
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