On July 19th, 2006 the Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol J.U.R.Y. program, which is funded by Assemblyman Lentol and administered by the 94th precinct of the New York Police Department, held it’s first graduation.
The program is essentially a youth court for students, ages 13-17. The students each take on and learn about the roles of judge, jury and advocates. Then area teens who have committed minor infractions such as vandalism or fighting at school can be given the option of going through the J.U.R.Y. youth court instead of taking traditional penalties such as suspension from school.
These students then go through a mock trial, where the jury, judge and lawyers are made up of their peers. Those who make up the J.U.R.Y. can then hand out ‘punishments’ for these petty crimes. These punishments include such things as community service, academic exercise or educational workshops.
“The value of this program is twofold,” said Assemblyman Lentol. “It gives those in the program the chance to learn about and appreciate the criminal justice system. In addition, those who have committed the crime often benefit from the penalties handed out by the program. The values taught by ‘punishments’ such as community service or educational workshops instill the kind of values in our youth that can be extremely important and gratifying later in life.”
Assemblyman Lentol went on to point out that by trying their hand at being an advocate or judge in the mock program the students get a chance to try out a real life profession that they may want to pursue later on.
The graduation of the J.U.R.Y. program’s first class was an exciting event. Students listened to comments by Police Officer Carlos Ortiz and to Captain Paul E. Vorbeck before receiving their certificates. The graduates included Justin Capote, Michael Cherry, Ethan Danielski, Peter Gorski, Krzysztof Musial, Tanya Niemiec, Jeffrey Nunziato and Joseph Smith.
“I would like to thank Captain Vorbeck, the 94th Precinct and, of course, all of the students who did such a wonderful job, for making this program such a resounding success,” stated Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol. “I truly hope the experience will help those involved find success later on in life as well.”