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Program aimed to prepare students to work in criminal justice field

Over 30 students from six schools are participating in a program that helps prepare them for careers in criminal law.

NEW ORLEANS - It's a profession the students at MLK High School students in the Lower 9th Ward say they see all the time on television.

Prosecutors and defenders, fighting for a guilty or not guilty verdict.

It's a dream for high school junior Teryelle Green.

"I always wanted to do criminal justice," Green said.

Green says she already knows what case she wants to uncover. One that is close to her heart.

"When I was 10, my mom died, and I feel like the case ain't get solved the way it was suppose to do so, I just wanted to be apart of something and maybe I could finish the case someday probably," Green said.

That drive to investigate her mother's death brought her to this classroom. Green is part of a new program called the "Allen Ray Bolin Trial Advocacy Workshop. A program preparing high school students who are interested in criminal law.

Enjoli Loyd, who is also a junior at MLK High is ready to begin. She wants to make a difference in her community.

"You see a lot of people, you know, go through the justice program and like, you don't know what you can do to help it. And you see things that happen in trials that you wish it wouldn't. So, you always want to be able to think, 'I want to be able to help one day,'" Loyd said.

Criminal District Court Judge Arthur Hunter started planning the program a few months ago. It's loosely modeled on the one used at Harvard University where he teaches.

"They meet twice a week, for an hour and a half. At different schools," Judge Hunter said.

36 students from MLK High School, Carver, Landry Walker, St. Augustine, St. Mary's and Xavier Prep are participating this year.

"Number one, to enhance their academic skills. Secondly, to focus them on career development. And third, to plant a seed of future lawyer, future judges," Judge Hunter said.

Prosecutors and defenders usually battling each other are joining forces and volunteering for the program. Laying the foundation for those they want to see follow in their footsteps.

"When I was their age, I didn't know anyone who looked like me," Defense Attorney Gregory Carter said. "Representation is important. It's important that they see someone who looks like them. Someone who came from the same background as them can achieve anything."

"If it's your dream just move forward. Got to do whatever it takes to get where you want to be," Green said.

Green is one step closer to achieving that dream, so she can one day get closure; for herself and justice for her mother.

This year, students will take part in an all-day competition on December 15th at Criminal District Court.

Judge Hunter says they hope to expand to six or eight more schools next semester.

Caresse Jackman can be reached at cjackman@wwltv.com.

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