Hampden County “Justice League” learns about complex court system

Our legal system is complex and can be confusing, yet it impacts so much of what we do each day.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Our legal system is complex and can be confusing, yet it impacts so much of what we do each day. That’s why the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office has created the Justice League.

“Once we get older, we’re going to have to face stuff like this anyways, because things happen,” said Alexialee Hernandez, a seventh grader at Forest Park Middle School in Springfield. She said she enjoyed learning how the many people working in a courthouse keep citizens safe.

For months, the seventh graders been learning about the court system, court cases, and the many jobs in the legal field.

On Thursday, they toured the Hampden County District Attorney’s satellite office at Tower Square and courtrooms at the Hall of Justice. Their social studies teacher, Karen Cutone, told 22News the enrichment class may not be a science, English or math class that’s the focus for standardized testing, but as an enrichment class, it’s teaching students valuable skills for taking tests. Students are understanding and working through complex scenarios when reading legal documents and they’re expanding their vocabulary by learning legal jargon.

It’s also teaching them skills for the real world. “We do have crime in the area and they need to know how to combat it. And you know what, you don’t always have to be a police officer to combat crime. Sometimes just understanding and calling someone and asking for help,” said Cutone. Her husband is part of the C3 Policing in Springfield and understands the importance of including all age groups in the legal process.

District Attorney Gulluni said this isn’t a scared straight program, but through this type of education, it certainly helps in keeping students out of trouble. “Better understanding of the system is helpful and we hope that it spreads and they understand how hard we work to keep them safe, but also what the consequences are of their actions,” Gulluni told 22News.

This is just the beginning. Cutone said the Justice League is expanding next year at Forest Park Middle School to include many more students. And DA Gulluni is expected to adopt more classrooms for the next school year.

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