While working with the communication interns this semester at the Commonwealth Attorney’s office, I have had the pleasure of learning what their lives were like before they came here. I have been captivated by one of our intern’s story, so I sat her down for a quick interview to learn what she was all about. Her name is Alexis Athanas and she is from Atlanta, Georgia. Before coming to Lexington and attending the University of Kentucky, Alexis was traveling all over the country playing lacrosse in various recruiting tournaments trying to get noticed by schools.
Every weekend in the fall and spring of her junior year of high school, Alexis would get on a plane Friday after school and fly to somewhere in the country to play in a lacrosse tournament or attend a training weekend at a college or university for the weekend. The purpose of these tournament and training weekends was to get noticed by college coaches that the athletes have been emailing to prove their skills on the field. Then, after the weekend was over and the tournament had ended she would hop on a flight back to Atlanta, do her homework or study for tests on the plane, get a couple hours of sleep, and then go to school the next morning. “It was extremely taxing to be gone all the time and have to catch up on school work 24/7. The experiences I was able to be apart of though was what made it all worth it,” says Athanas.
Alexis told me about many challenges she faced throughout the process of trying to get recruited by a school. Right away she told me what she would forever refer to as “the hard truth”. She explained that the odds were stacked again
st her. There are limited spaces for Division I, Division II, Division III, and club lacrosse women and, on top of that, coming from a nontraditional lacrosse area, like Georgia, makes it even harder to get noticed.
She raved about a woman named Crista Samaras who is the founder of XTEAM, the club travel team Alexis was apart of. Crista Samaras has been a number of things to Alexis. From a mother when she missed her own to the devil when she made her do countless track workouts and pushed her to her maximum capacity. She helped her beat the odds of coming from a nontraditional lacrosse area and getting offers from every divisional level. She helped her increase her confidence and be more outgoing and try to meet new people. Alexis says “Without a doubt, she motivated her to run harder, think broader, and smile bigger. Crista Samaras has influenced me in millions of ways. I am not saying that without having Crista in my life that I would not have any of these attributes at all, but I don’t think they would be reached to their full capacity.” She helped her dig deep within herself to find these characteristics that define her.
Alexis concluded the interview by saying that, “Crista and everyone a part of my lacrosse community hastaught and influenced me to laugh louder, fight harder, and risk more through XTEAM and life.”
Criminology is the scientific study of criminal behavior, and one reason why criminology is valuable is because it helps us figure out better ways to prevent or manage criminal behavior. Out of the many types of crimes, some are more common than others—think, for instance, of theft and larceny, burglaries, or robberies.
These types of crimes share similar meanings, but there are important distinctions between them. Theft and larceny describes a type of crime involving the intent to permanently deprive an owner of something of value that he or she possesses. On the other hand, burglary involves breaking and entering into a home in order to commit theft and larceny. More precisely, robbery involves an extra element: the person who is being robbed. Crimes like mugging or purse-snatching are considered robberies. These are simple definitions.
Interestingly, one fundamental fact of criminology is that a small proportion of individuals are responsible for a large proportion of crime. According to “Career Criminals in Society,” by Matthew DeLisi at Iowa State University, this fact has scientific foundations:
“More than a century of scientific research has indicated that the majority of crime that occurs in society is committed by a small percentage of the population, meaning that most criminals are repeat offenders, or “career criminals.” If societies devoted considerable resources toward preventing and neutralizing career criminals, there would be dramatic reductions in crime, the fear of crime, and the assorted costs and collateral consequences of crime.”
In the same vein, theft, burglary, and robberies are often committed by repeat offenders because of a lack of legal or rational deterrence. This lack may be a result of unconvincing punishments, or perhaps internal reasons resting within the criminal, whose criminal behavior is neither properly treated nor changed in detention centers or prisons.
In Intelligence-Led Policing (2008), Jerry Ratcliffe suggests that nearly 60 percent of crimes in the United States are committed by 6 percent of the population. Resonating with the past observation that a lot of these crimes must be committed by repeat offenders, criminology would also suggest that targeting repeat offenders would seriously reduce crime. One emerging hypothesis in criminology is targeting such prolific offenders. By targeting prolific offenders, some argues, communities can yield a reduction in crime. This is evidenced by particular case studies outside of the United States—such as Operation Anchorage in Canberra, Australia or Police Tactics in Spokane—which determined that targeting repeat or prolific offenders can significantly prevent and deter such offenses as burglaries.
The writers of Law & Order try to use the show to educate the public on the criminal justice system. It’s a popular show all over the world. Crime is something easy to translate to any language. Law & Order doesn’t require you to follow along the entire series to understand what’s going on, you can just get right into it on any episode! So, how alike is Law & Order to reality?
The first half of the show is about showing the audience the crime and builds the story on who committed the crime. They try to pick subjects that aren’t slam-dunks and make you think a little more about the crime. The second half of the show is about preparing for the criminal’s trial, trying to figure why the decided to commit the crime, and of course, proving they’re guilty in court.
Law & Order does a great job of showing that the prosecutors have to prove to the court that the subject committed the crime even if it’s a blatant textbook case. Just like in the real world, justice doesn’t always prevail in the end. Guilty people get off and innocent people get convicted. The show accurately depicts reality by not always ending with a happy ending.
Keep some important ideas in mind when you watch Law & Order though! Remember that the show has about 60 minutes plus commercials to show you a crime and a conviction. The show accelerates a lot of the processes in the show. Remember that detectives usually have multiple cases on their plates and usually don’t devote all of their time to one single case. Also, the justice system takes a significant amount of time; a serious crime trial could last for several months. Our police officers, detectives, and prosecutors are on a sincere quest for justice not matter how long it takes!
These past two weeks have been eventful, to say the least. I’ve been in and out of the different courtrooms for a variety of reasons, toured the police department and both courthouses, participated in “Kids in Court”, attended a meeting held by the Child Sex Abuse Multidisciplinary team, and successfully completed a Concealed Carry of Deadly Weapons course.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned thus far at the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office is that knowledge of the court system is essential in any field of social service because the practice of social work and the legal system are inexplicably intertwined. The law plays a multitude of fundamental roles in the field of social work and social workers play a fundamental role in the criminal justice system.
First, the judicial system affects every client’s physical and social environments because the law is supposed to dictate one’s behavior and actions.
Second, the law provides social workers with knowledge of their clients’ rights and responsibilities on the micro and macro levels of society.
Third, it is important that practioners know the specific laws applicable to their clients and the referrals they make on their behalf. In addition, practioners should make sure that their own agencies are adhering to the laws and legislation that regulate their business.
Finally, social workers need to be cognizant of the law, as well as correlating ethical principles, in order to avoid a malpractice suit or causing harm to the client. Social workers should aim to provide the best possible service to their clients and in order to do so knowledge of the law is crucial.
“Born in Lexington, Taylor Brown is completing his third year in law school at the University of Kentucky. Currently, he is extern with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. An externship is an active learning experience, and Taylor is looking forward to the opportunity to put his legal training into experiential practice.
Before studying law, Taylor earned two degrees in Government. At the undergraduate level, he studied at Morehead State. From there, he earned his Masters in Government from Johns Hopkins University. During his studies, he expressed an interest in the Constitution and Constitutional Law. After earning his Masters, he decided to attend law school in his hometown. Being from Lexington, he is glad that this opportunity allows him to serve his beloved community. He has had previous externships dealing with civil cases and governance, but this externship affords him a chance to deal with criminal cases.
Besides that, Taylor Brown would like to add that he’s married and has a dog named Memphis. He is also a big fan when it comes to the University of Kentucky’s basketball and football teams. In any case, we’re happy to welcome him to the office as a new member of the team.”
My name is Sayid Bnefsi, and I’m an undergraduate student of philosophy at Berea College in Berea, KY. I was born in Saudi Arabia, and I came to the United States at an early age and naturalized in Michigan. During my undergraduate career, I’ve lived the academic life: attending lectures, conferences, and summer institutes in philosophy. I was interested in the principles of justice that underpin our government and legal system—from the doctrine of separation of powers to the introduction of the Brandeis brief and the phenomenon of judicial activism. Before committing myself, however, I thought it would be in my best interests to explore an internship, and so here I am.
Elsewhere, I’ve studied abroad in France for several months and became fluent in French. As of right now, my postgraduate studies are eyeing law. I would like to attend Columbia Law School in order to both study law in an academically strong school and possibly take advantage of a joint degree Columbia permits students to pursue with the Law School at the University of Paris Sorbonne.
My career possibilities are plentiful, but my decisions are underdeveloped. I would like to ultimately become an academic—professional or not—but I am also interested in jobs that send me around the world in the capacity of an ambassador or diplomat. This would mean pursuing government positions, and indicates an ambition to serve public interests in the future.
We have a special guest with us at the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office today! Mr. Brian Engle has agreed to teach a handful of our attorneys and advocates about gun safety and help them obtain their “concealed carry” licenses!
The Carrying Concealed Deadly Weapons (CCDW) class requires a minimum of six hours in the classroom learning about gun and weapon safety, nomenclature, and how to take care of and clean your weapon.
The class being taught by Mr. Engle exceeds the minimum six hours.
The students will also be viewing two videos that deal with the legal matters surrounding the possession and use of deadly weapons. At the end of the classroom time they will be given a written exam to assess their comprehension of the course.
After the classroom portion is over everyone will head over to the shooting range to perform the Live Fire Exercise. To complete their certification they have to hit the target, named Bob, 11/20 times.
It is imperative that our attorney’s and advocates are properly educated and equipped to handle any situation that comes their way on and off the job! Thanks so much for all your help Brian!
My name is Ryan McElhose. I am from a small town called Hinton, Iowa. After high school graduation I made themove to Lexington to pursue my bachelor’s degree at the University of Kentucky. I am striving towards a B.A. in Sociology with a double minor in Philosophy and African-American Studies.
What I enjoy most about the University of Kentucky and the city of Lexington is the access to opportunities and trust for young leaders to take initiative for our future. This past summer I had an internship in Cape Town, South Africa. I also had amazing exposure to a law center promoting equal norms and standards to education. Transitioning from that experience to now interning for the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office in my sophomore year confirms my beliefs that Lexington is in full support regarding the personal and professional growth of its students. Aside from my internship, I am the Secretary/Treasurer of ONE Campaign at UK as well as the student manager of the Women’s soccer team.
This internship also will help me narrow my focus; as law school is a possibility in the future. With the classes I have taken at the University of Kentucky, I find my gravitating towards post-conviction justice as well as exonerating those who have been wrongfully convicted.
There is an old story that has stuck with me and also applies to my ethos as well as my character that differentiates compassion and justice. An associate explained to me, “When you notice people are drowning down the river, compassion is when you respond by pulling people out of the river; weeping and commiserating with those around them. Whereas, justice is when someone decides to go upstream and see who it is that continuously is throwing everyone into the river.”
Because I adhere to the principles of justice, I am humbled to intern with the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and gain even more exposure, responsibilities, and an impeccable learning experience
My name is Ashley Zepeda and I’m a junior at the University of Kentucky. I’m originally from Texas but I moved to Kentucky just before I started high school. I decided to stay in state when it came time for college, namely for Kentucky basketball!
I’m majoring in International Studies, focusing on human rights and population movements in Africa and the Middle East. Essentially I study the history and background of human rights in these countries as well as constantly developing theories and plans for advocating on a global scale. I am also pursuing a minor in Political Science. I’m extremely interestedin getting to know more about both the legal field and politics. I’m currently serving as a senator for the College of Arts & Sciences in UK’s student government but wanted to gain experience outside of the university as well.
I applied to this internship with the hopes of gaining that outside experience as well as knowledge that will help prepare me both for law school after I graduate and my future career. I am very eager to learn everything I can and to be a part of the legal process, something that I have yet to experience!
After graduating in May 2016 I plan on attending law school then using that degree to pursue a career in the human rights field. I would love to work for the United Nations, advocating for human rights on an international level or a humanitarian organization abroad.