Youth and Justice Forum aims to build trust

Creates positive interaction with criminal justice system

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Monday, March 10, 2014 at 8:51 a.m.

Local criminal justice, education and city partners will team up to host the first Youth and Justice Forum in Spokane for teenagers to promote racial and ethnic diversity in the justice system workforce and better reflect the changing community.

Students will get a well-rounded experience during the day-long forum on Friday at the Gonzaga University School of Law beginning at 8:45 a.m. The agenda is packed with interaction, demonstrations and great opportunities for students to ask questions and learn. Students will be encouraged to think about and understand their legal rights and obligations as a member of their community.

“This is a chance to give students positive exposure to the criminal justice system at an early age,” said Spokane Mayor David Condon. “Our goal is for students to leave with a whole new perspective on the criminal justice system.”

Outreach has included efforts to attract students who are historically underrepresented. Students in grades 8-12 will interact with judges, attorneys, law enforcement, probation officers, law professors, court reporters, and interpreters. They will learn to argue hypothetical cases with attorneys and judges; learn about rights, interaction with law enforcement and laws affecting youth; and meet local leaders and others who work in the justice system.

“We are building trust between students, law enforcement and the criminal justice system,” said Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub. “Some may leave with their eyes opened to a new world of professional opportunities.”

Partners include the Spokane County Bar Association Diversity Section, Washington State Minority & Justice Commission, City of Spokane, Spokane Public Schools, Spokane Police Department, Spokane County Sheriff's Office, Washington State Patrol, Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Gonzaga University School of Law, Discover Law and Youth, Adult and Family Connections, and Charles A. Cleveland, P.S., and Wildrose Graphics.