Big crowd turns out for justice forum

Tue, 11/13/2007 - 4:23pm
By: The Citizen

There was standing room only at the Juvenile Justice Awareness Forum held at the Fayette County Library on Saturday, Oct. 27. The forum was sponsored by the Fayette County NAACP Youth Council and well attended by over 150 youth, adults and guests. The opening welcomed was presented by Youth President, Maurice Jeffries II a senior at Sandy Creek. Biahnca Blood, a senior and chair of the Juvenile Justice Committee planned and moderated the forum. Other members who volunteered to assure the success of the forum were Darius Johnson, Jonathan Owens, Shataria Traylor and Allison Ragins and a host of other volunteers and teens from various organizations. Advance questions were orchestrated by our Youth Council members to assure their concerns were presented to the panelists and other teens in attendance asked countless questions about laws and their Rights.

The forum began with a presentation on “The Seven Deadly Sins” by Jimmonique Rodgers, Juvenile Appeals Attorney and Georgia Public Defender. She carefully defined the seven; murder, rape, armed robbery, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery and voluntary manslaughter. She also advised young people of their rights. Her presentation was followed by Clayton County Chief Assistant District Attorney, Todd E. Naugle who covered Gang Violence Causes, Preventions and Consequences with a question and answer session.

The highlight of the forum was a presentation on “Is Justice Really Blind” by Attorney B.J. Bernstein, defense lawyer for Genarlow Wilson who was incarcerated at age 17 charged with aggravated sexual molestation of a minor and released from prison cleared of all charges last Friday. Attorney Bernstein admits Wilson’s punishment did not fit the crime and clearly stated she does not condone any form of sexual misconduct by anyone. She came into the audience and asked challenging questions of the young people who listened attentively to her very powerful message. Her presentation was followed by a panel discussion with panelists; Magistrate Judge Daphne Walker, Juvenile Court Judge Tarey Schell, Fayette County School Assistant Superintendent, Sam Sweat, Fayetteville Police Department, Major Kevin Gooding, Juvenile Attorney Jimmonique Rodgers, Attorneys Robert Daniel and Dorian Murry. The panelists defined laws governing students, school safety rules and laws, Designated Felony Act, drivers license restrictions, curfews, what constitutes school gangs and some of the consequences and punishment for offenses. Question and answer session were engaged as discussions.

The final speaker was Brian Hicks who told his real life story of continuous incarcerations and his life as a “changed man”. Hick’s reinforcement panelists on prevention were attorney Robert Daniel and attorney Dorian Murry who responded to some of the questions from the audience.

A laser-like focus best describes the interest level of youth who attended and remained attentive at the forum. Other professionals and parents alike expressed interests in having continuous informational/ educational forums to help teens to remain in school, away from crime and prevent high numbers of juvenile from incarceration. In observation from questions and discussions, more prevention and alternative programs should be created to help save a generation of potentially young leaders. Recent economic statistics does show the annual cost to educate a child is $8,000 and $40,000 to incarcerate a child, an annual tax savings of $32,000 that can be applied toward prevention and alternative programs.

Special thanks to Ms. Brenda Cox and Maurice Jeffries I for soliciting support of foods from Pizza Hut, Kroger, Publix, SteviB’s Pizza, Starbucks, Chick-Fil-A, Partners Pizza II, Pies On Pizza, and This Is IT Restaurant. More than enough food was available to feed our guests.

For more information about the Fayette County NAACP Youth Council and Fayette County Adult Branch, please visit the website

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