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Law Day teaches children about legal process

By 2d Lt. Frank Hartnett The Bombardier

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Judge Advocates from Barksdale gave legal advice to an unusual audience Tuesday.
Members of the 2d Bomb Wing Legal office visited the students of Green Acres Middle School in Bossier City during Law Day.
Law Day is a nation-wide program sponsored by the American Bar Association, a professional organization which oversees the legal profession, designed to teach children about the legal system and how it can affect their everyday life.
The first Law Day was recognized by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1958. The goal back then is the same as it is today - to strengthen the great heritage of liberty, justice and equality of the United States.
The theme of this year's day was "Liberty Under Law: Empowering Youth, Assuring Democracy."
"Law day is important to spread awareness about what it is lawyers do to the youth of America," said Capt. Ravi Kapoor, chief of legal claims. "Most of the legal profession is shielded behind multi-syllable or old English words, which is confusing to most adults, let alone middle school kids. Law Day gives the chance for lawyers all over America to explain to kids the criminal justice system in plain words."
The students received a briefing on how the judicial system uses sanctions to punish and rehabilitate people who break the law. They also learned about the differences between the juveniles and adults in the justice system.
The kids seemed to really enjoy the talk about judicial disposition," said 1st Lt. Mitch Martzen, assistant staff judge advocate. "They especially enjoyed working case scenarios from real live cases."
After learning about the judicial system, the students had the chance to hear a case and render a disposition, more commonly known as a sentence.
Some of the students were eager to dish out harsh punishments for minor infractions. "I learned that students have broad range of punishments they are willing to consider," said Lieutenant Martzen. "Some may be outside of the box for those of us in the profession. I, for example, wouldn't think of putting someone in a straight-jacket."
Students learned a valuable lesson regardless if they handed out heavy or lenient sentences.
"In my opinion," said Lieutenant Martzen, "educating the community can ultimately help lead to less crime through deterrence of criminals and heightened awareness of potential victims."
Captain Kapoor agreed.
"It's important because it opens up there mind to think about the broader implications of criminal justice in society, not just the crime and punishment type stories you see on the news," he said.