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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Criminal justice students assist in preparation for J. Paul Taylor Symposium

Three graduate and four undergraduate criminal justice students have combined efforts to assist in publicity and the production of a video documentary for the J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium: Justice for Youth.

Alaina Lopez, a New Mexico State University criminal justice graduate student, assembles nametag lanyards for the J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium: Justice for Youth at a recent committee planning meeting. She and Anthony Lucero, at right, are two of the students assisting with publicity efforts for the symposium. (Photo by Daniella De Luca)

The symposium, in its fifth year, will be held April 14 to 16 at the Corbett Center ballrooms. A schedule of events can be found at http://jpts.nmsu.edu/

"I hope to learn more about the juvenile justice system and the various programs that are made available to the youth of New Mexico," said Juanita Smith, one of the students helping coordinate publicity for the symposium. Others on her team include Alaina Lopez and Anthony Lucero.

The group's main publicity effort is to coordinate a provider fair during the symposium from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on April 15 in the Corbett Center Senate Gallery. The fair will have about 30 different tables each represented by a juvenile justice, health or education organization from the local and state levels. The students are being advised by associate professor of criminal justice, Lisa Bond-Maupin.

"Our students are learning about juvenile justice system reform and best practices first-hand through their involvement with organizing the symposium provider fair and preparing the documentary. The film project gives students the opportunity to work closely with incarcerated youth to learn about the impact of statewide reforms on their experience. This is an excellent example of the land grant mission of NMSU - integrating teaching and service to the state," Bond-Maupin said.

Alpha Phi Sigma, NMSU's criminal justice honor society, will also be represented at the symposium as hospitality workers, greeters and administrative help. Juli Lapeyre is the student representative for the group.

Undergraduate seniors Chris Nunez, Adrianna Carranza, Yesenia Godoy and Adam Nez are crafting a video documentary highlighting positive changes happening in New Mexico Juvenile Justice Department of Corrections. The documentary, "Life Within" will premiere at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, in the Corbett Center auditorium.

"There are many improvements being made to the state juvenile corrections system, and the J. Paul Taylor Center is the first of all the facilities in New Mexico that are changing," Nunez said. The center, located at 10015 Robert Larson, Las Cruces, is juvenile correctional facility operated by the NM Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD). CYFD used the Missouri Division of Youth Services as a model for improvements to its juvenile correctional facilities because of Missouri's nationally known successes with young people. The center was chosen as the first to test out new approaches such as the staff acting as mentors and role models to the youth and incorporating home-like dorm amenities.

"They (the Missouri Division of Youth Services) have made such remarkable progress with their kids, New Mexico thought they should join in on this type of approach," Nunez said.

The students working on these projects admit it has helped them learn many things about the state's criminal justice field and feel it's been challenging but worthwhile work.

"We hope that people will enjoy our documentary and trust that our classmates are putting together one heck of a symposium," Nunez said.