US Attorney's Office Sponsors First-Ever Youth Justice Summit For Students From Three Atlanta High Schools
US Attorney Sally Yates offers comments
Georgia State Law Student Joshua May
Students ask and learn
Students line up to ask questions to a
Music producer and rap artist Khao Cates
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Brown leads
GSU Black Law Students Association
Students mingle with summit participants
More than 120 students from three high schools in Atlanta attended the first-ever Youth Justice Summit on September 13, 2011. The event was sponsored by the United States Attorney’s Office, Atlanta Police Department, and Atlanta Public Schools, and hosted students from Washington, Therrell, and Grady High Schools. The students assisted an Atlanta Police Department homicide investigator in conducting forensic examinations of crime scenes, and learned about the variety of career opportunities in the justice field.
The Summit, held at Georgia State University’s Dahlberg Hall, also included a wide-ranging interactive program designed to explore the justice system, from the initiation of a murder investigation at the crime scene, to a mock motion hearing conducted by law students from the Georgia State University Black Law Students Association--with V-103 deejay Greg Street presiding as the judge. Music producer and rap artist Kevin “Khao” Cates delivered a motivational presentation about the importance of setting life goals as well as staying on the right path to reach those goals.
Between the “hands-on” demonstrations, speakers included U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, Interim Atlanta Public Schools Superintendant Erroll Davis, and representatives from Georgia State University and Atlanta Technical College who spoke about educational programs offered by the schools.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the event, “I’m inspired by the enthusiasm that the students showed in learning about the justice system. We hope that this provided an opportunity for the students to get to know law enforcement in a positive environment.”
Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said, “Fighting crime is far more complicated than just making arrests and sending people to jail. To make a real impact, we have to join together with our partners - in this case the U.S. Attorney's Office and Atlanta Public Schools - to help young people make good decisions. Kids need to understand that their actions now have consequences that can last a lifetime."
Lester McKee, Program Administrator for Atlanta Public Schools’ Department of K-12 College and Career Readiness, said, “APS is pleased to partner with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Atlanta Police Department to offer our students a unique opportunity to experience the exciting careers and occupations within the field of law. The Department of K-12 College and Career Readiness considers the Youth Justice Summit a critical component of our programming and we look forward to expanding this opportunity to include more students next year. The summit engaged our students and encouraged them to pursue their dreams.”
The morning session featured a rap show and inspirational speech by Khao Cates, whose “Bridge Da Gap” organization has developed a textbook and music CD curriculum to help youth to advance their dreams by building character in positive ways. More information regarding Cates' organization can be found at www.bridgedagap.com.
The students then participated in a “CSI-style” presentation by an APD homicide detective, where the students searched for clues and suggested ideas for pursuing investigative leads. The detective, who also is an APD negotiator, led a mock negotiation with a student where she role-played a suicidal citizen.
Later, students from Georgia State’s Black Law Students Association assumed the roles of prosecutor, defense attorney, and eyewitness and argued whether a murder case must be dismissed for lack of evidence, with V-103’s Street presiding over the proceedings. The mock hearing led to a lively round of questions from the audience to the law students and federal prosecutors, who gave honest but encouraging advice about applying to college and graduate school, pursuing a career, and enjoying life with a full-time job. The afternoon ended with Greg Street conducting a trivia contest and handing out prizes to the students.
Links to schools