Empowering youth. assuring democracy

  • Published
  • By Capt. Andrea Knudson
  • 49th Fighter Wing assistant staff judge advocate
Assistant staff judge advocates from the Holloman legal office are going to Alamogordo High School and speaking to four classes May 1 for Law Day.

The theme for this year's law day is Liberty Under Law: Empowering Youth, Assuring Democracy. This theme addresses a broad range of topics. Some of which include foster care, volunteering, the role of youth in the justice system, rehabilitating youth and the challenges facing America's teens.

Maj. Sheri Jones, the Deputy SJA at Holloman said, "By partnering with Alamogordo High School we can highlight the importance of youth to the future of our rich democratic system of justice."

In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision that constitutional protections should be extended to youth involved in our juvenile justice system in the case of In Re Gault. In that case, the Supreme Court came to the conclusion that the 15-year-old involved had his constitutional rights violated when he was not informed of the charges against him, not given a lawyer, not allowed to confront his witnesses and not allowed to appeal his charges.

According to the Juvenile Offenders and Victims 2006 National Report, one of every four violent crime victims known to law enforcement is a juvenile, and most of these victims are female. Furthermore, about two-thirds of these violent crimes occur in the residence.

The good news is, according to the 2005 Indicators of School Crime and Safety, between 1993 and 2003, the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon generally declined from 22 to 17 percent. Similarly, the percentage of students who carried a weapon at school also declined during this time period from 12 to six percent.

Assistant SJAs hope to help the students better understand the legal system, to have their voices heard and to hopefully change the way in which young people experience the law and the courts.