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Emily Domingue, a junior at ASH, has been in the Honors Program for three years.  She began by researching the death penalty which opened her eyes to the many corrupt aspects of the criminal justice system.  Emily shares, 

My research on the death penalty acted as an introduction to the many injustices in the legal system.  The death penalty acts as one of the best examples for the need for reform in our justice system.Moreover, Emily learned "how factors such as race, poverty, and mental illness can disadvantage certain individuals when it comes to the death penalty," yet capital punishment is authorized by the federal government and 27 states, maintaining its legality in Louisiana.

Following this example of wide-spread corruption, she wanted to dig deeper into the inequalities that are associated with criminal justice.  Sophomore year, Emily researched adolescent brain biology, learning "how environment (nurture) has a lot to do in determining which children commit crimes."  More specifically, Emily says,

Peer pressure, violence in the home, substance abuse, neglect... all are contributing factors for adolescents who commit crimes."Taking this a step forward, Emily is currently researching rehabilitation in the juvenile justice system.  This subject has proven to be "a bit of a tricky topic" for her due to the fact that thus far, very few resources for rehabilitation have been implemented.  Emily goes on to share, "I'm quite unsure of what real rehabilitation looks like.  Oftentimes, adolescents will commit a crime, serve their time, and return back to jail.  This viscious cycle acts as evidence of the lack of meaningful rehabilitation in the juvenile justice system."

Although juvenile rehabilitation is largely untested and many aspects are uncertain, Emily is pushing to learn more about effective therapy methods and other helpful resources such as vocational education.  One approach to the reintegration of juvenile offendors into society, vocational education imparts skills concerning a specific craft or trade.  Emily is invested in this idea of a better approach and believes that reform within the generally inadequate justice system must be imparted, especially for juveniles.  She states that, "Our justice system is based on harsh punishment rather than rehabilitation.  Every single year of my research has consistently drawn my attention to the need for change in our flawed system."

Moreover, Emily intends to take action.  Emily's research application is just as impressive as the depth of her research itself.  She is participating in this year's National History Day Competition, Frontiers in History: People, Places, and Ideas. Emily will focus on "the parallels between western frontier justice and the modern day justice system." You can learn more about the contest here.  Furthermore, all of Emily's hard work and passion is leading to something even bigger.  In the future, she plans to become a criminal defense attorney to fight against injustices in the legal system.

Emily's research on the criminal justice system has led her to believe in the need for its reform, and she is proactively spreading the word about the verity of injustice within a system that is by name and definition, intended to bring about justice.  After all, what is the higher purpose of the criminal legal system if not to prompt recovery and prevent individuals from committing crimes in the future and to therefore establish stability for those individuals and society as a whole?  Indeed, with proactive young people like Emily, the reality of this more fair notion of remedial reintegration may just be attainable in the future.

- Lelia Venable, '23, Editor