Justice Watch (JW) is a new branch of CC Prison Project club that has recently been created and focuses on holding judges and attorneys accountable for fair treatment in courthouses. Justice Watch sends students to the El Paso County Courthouse (located on S. Tejon St.) to observe and report judges’ demeanor. The club’s goal is to make sure that judges are behaving appropriately and are held accountable for bias or mistreatment. JW’s mission statement is “to be the eyes and ears of the community and keep judges accountable for their behavior.” This group offers an opportunity for low time commitment and high impact involvement for students.
One of CCE workers, Julia Bazavluk, recently connected with Key Duckworth, one of the leaders of Justice Watch. We have asked her to share what kinds of activities JW performs, how students can get involved, what the purpose and goals of the group are. Now, in the form of a interview, we are going to share what we have found out.
Julia: Hi Key! Thank you so much for being willing to share information as well as your thoughts and hopes about Justice Watch with us. To start, please tell us what inspired the creation of the JW at CC?
Key: Hi Julia! Thank you for reaching out to me. Starting this group on campus was not my original idea, but an idea pitched to Gail Murphy-Geiss by a former student. Gail has been sending students to the courthouse as part of her FYE for many years. By creating a Justice Watch club, we are hoping that we can get enough data to compile a report for the Chief Justice.
Julia: Is CC JW going to be connected to Justice Watch Inc. (https://www.judicialwatch.org/) ? If yes, in what ways, and how would you plan to cooperate with them?
Key: We are not affiliated with this organization. Justice Watch did, however, start as a now-defunct non-profit in the Springs community (https://www.guidestar.org/profile/72-1586290). We hope to bring Jan Weiland and other community members back into the organization once it is more established.
Julia: This sounds like a good plan, and we hope you will be able to accomplish it! How do you think Justice Watch will impact CC students, culture, and atmosphere on campus?
Key: I think that Justice Watch will make CC students more aware of what truly goes on in the court system. Additionally, if we succeed in gathering enough data to present a report to the Chief Justice, I think the experience will empower students to be more politically active by showing them that they can actually have an impact on judges behavior. (In the past, Justice Watch reports have resulted in 2 judges being removed from juvenile court for inappropriate behavior.)
Julia: Wow, we didn’t know that JW has had such a big impact in the past! But what can CC students bring into the club, and how can they get involved?
Key: Students can get involved by contacting any of the group leaders. We will give students a rundown on what to expect at the courthouse, how to fill out a data sheet, and how to act while observing judges. After that, they are free to go to court and observe/record data whenever is convenient for them (preferably at least once a block).
Julia: Also, what events, if any, will the club organize? Do you have specific ideas/dates in mind?
Key: We will try to meet at least once a block during the first week although we don’t have specific dates yet.
Julia: Are there any groups on campus that might be similar to Justice Watch? If yes, would you be able to cooperate with them and what would you do?
Key: I am not aware of any.
Julia: It’s good because it means that you are going to be a very unique organization that can potentially attract a lot of CC students. What will be an approximate schedule of the meetings? How big of a commitment will it be for students who get involved?
Julia: It is awesome that you provide a lot of freedom for the students do decide their personal level of commitment. But what do you feel will be the biggest issues/problems facing the club?
Key: I think our biggest issue will be student reliability. Because we have people go whenever is most convenient, I worry that some students will forget to or decide that walking twenty minutes is not worth it. I am hoping to start a group message of some sort so that people can arrange carpools or choose times to go in groups as I think this might keep people more accountable.
Key: In five years, I hope that we will be able to compile enough information to write a report every year. I also hope that we will have community members involved.
Julia: I hope you will achieve this goal, and we wish you best of luck!
Key: Thank you so much!