Bronx Week: Judge For Yourself

Recently here in the Bronx we celebrated the 10th annual Bronx Week an event sponsored by the Bronx Borough President which consists of a week long series of events including athletic competitions, tours of historic Bronx landmarks, a parade, and things that make the Bronx unique in its own essence. This year, Bronx Community Solutions had the opportunity to plan and run an event as part of the week's activities, which we called Judge For Yourself. Our goal was to give members of the NYPD's Explorers program an inside view of the court and demystify people who work in the justice system.

The Explorers is a program designed to educate young men and women, ages 14-20, about law enforcement and encourage them to pursue a career in the law. The program focuses on six areas: career, service, leadership, social, fitness and outdoors. Part one of this event was held at the Criminal Court building led by our very own Maria Almonte-Weston, Aeli Gladstein, T.K. Singleton and my fellow Americorps members Susan Jackson, Caren Rodriguez and Edwin Williams. Here is where the Explorers got a feel of what happens and goes on in the court room. They got a chance to hear from the sergeant in charge and got a running commentary from Bronx Community Solutions staff. Afterwards they went down the street to The Bronx School of Law Government and Justice to play an exciting game of Law Jeopardy. This was an opportunity for the Explorers to show their knowledge of law terms, giving and answering questions, and participating. We based these activities on the events we hosted for Law Day.

Later on that week was part two where the young explorers from 44, 47, 48 and 49th precincts were able to step foot in the Supreme Court building and encounter important court representatives. The representatives included Executive Assistant District Attorney Odalys Alonso, Chief Clerk of Bronx Supreme Court Steve Clark, Executive Director of Bronx Defenders Robin Steinberg, Clinical Director of Bronx Community Solutions Maria Almonte-Weston, and moderated by Deputy Borough President Earl Brown. Each panelist described their position, duties and what it was like in there position. They were asked a number of different questions from the Explorers like "should first time offenders who have committed a serious crime be given a second chance?", "what do they think about drugs in our communities and how we could make a difference?" and "What motivates you to keep doing a tough job day after day?" These are just examples of the outstanding questions they presented. There was so much participation and feed back that there was a feeling that we would not be leaving in time. The panalist answered every question to the best of there opinion and professionalism and gave the group of young explorers a lot of insight.