U.S. Attorney’s Office Hosts Mock Trial Academy for Fifth Graders from Gabe Allen Elementary School in West Dallas
Part of Crime Prevention and Community Outreach Component of DOJ’s Smart on Crime Initiative
DALLAS — The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas’s Mock Trial Academy, conducted as part of the District’s ongoing Crime Prevention and Community Outreach component of the Justice Department’s Smart on Crime initiative, concluded this week with fifth grade students from Gabe Allen Elementary School in West Dallas participating in a mock trial held in a federal courtroom in Dallas.
“Establishing a positive relationship with today’s youth is vital to the prevention of crime and violence in our communities,” said U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas. “Through this Mock Trial Academy, these students directly interacted with professionals in law and law enforcement, gaining not only an insider’s perspective of our legal system, but an opportunity to explore career opportunities in law enforcement and criminal justice.”
Approximately 30 fifth-graders met with representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office throughout the academy to learn about our criminal justice system. The students were guided through the trial process and had an opportunity to further develop their listening, problem solving, and communication skills.
All of the participants in this week’s mock trial were students who played the roles of judge, court security officers, lawyers, witnesses and jurors in the case of U.S. v. Mary Witch, in which defendant Witch was accused of kidnapping Hansel and Gretel. The court was brought to order by the young judge and young bailiffs ensured courtroom procedures were followed. After hearing the evidence presented, the group of 12 young jurors, who had not heard about the case prior to trial, had the opportunity to deliberate, decide on a verdict, and present that verdict to the court.
Following the mock trial, a graduation ceremony, where the students were presented certificates and junior U.S. Attorney badges, and a reception were held in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Smart on Crime, a DOJ initiative announced in 2013, acknowledges that while aggressive enforcement of federal criminal statutes remains necessary, we cannot arrest and incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation. To be effective, federal efforts must also focus on other components of criminal justice, like crime prevention and reentry. In fact, during last month’s Smart on Crime’s National Reentry Week in north Texas, the District sponsored and coordinated several events to raise awareness of the importance of reentry work.
More information about Smart on Crime may be found here. Information regarding Reentry efforts in the Northern District of Texas may be found here and resources regarding the Department’s Reentry efforts may be found here.
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