Courts In Schools
As judges, we owe the community an obligation to act as role models and mentors for our youth, and to inspire them to make positive choices when confronted with difficult situations. But simply lecturing students on the need to obey the law and to avoid risky behavior is not nearly as effective as letting them see for themselves the harsh consequences of making the wrong choice.
My plan to institute a Court in Schools program is intended to let our high school and middle school students see first-hand the severe consequences — both to the offender and, in many cases, the victim — of such conduct as illicit drug use and drinking while driving.
Under this program, an actual court session of our Drug Court or DUI court will be held in a secure manner at a local high school or middle school, complete with actual court personnel, prosecutors and defense attorneys. Students will sit in the audience and watch the judge conduct several cases during the session. After the court session is over, some of the defendants can work off part of their sentence by speaking directly to the students about how their bad choices have affected them. The court session can be videotaped by the new virtual high school so that it can be sent to other schools for inclusion in their curriculum.
The Court in Schools program, which began in 1993 in Michigan, will allow students to observe real cases without ever leaving the school setting. Similar programs in other states have received positive feedback from the participating schools as well as from judicial officers.