Women on the Path of Justice


Mr. Eagle

MLA Students Listening to One of Many Speakers

When the Women Everywhere organization offered Marine Leadership an opportunity for the young women at the school to witness the inner workings of the 26th Street and California Criminal Court House, it was impossible for Mr. Eagle to pass up.

Women Everywhere Chicago is a non-profit organization that has served valuable educational services to Chicago’s young women, working to inspire them to be involved in the justice system.  These services range from educational seminars to annual “Education Days”, inviting women students from underrepresented communities around the city to visit courts from the state to federal level. 

This year, our school was lucky enough to be chosen by that group of students. In early April the Women Everywhere program and the Cook County court offered our school the opportunity to participate on the yearly trip, marking the second time MLA cadets have gotten a close look at the criminal justice system. The previous trip was exclusive to the AP Government class but this trip was open to all high school girls. 

On April 21st, with 44 students and 5 chaperones, the group set off to learn and be inspired by the Chicago criminal justice system at work. “There was certainly excitement and curiosity from when we announced the trip to the bus ride there,” stated Mr. Eagle, the main organizer and one of the chaperones on the trip. Certainly, the goal of Women Everywhere to spark questions and curiosity about the court was already meeting expectations.

As the girls got off the bus and saw the criminal court building their excitement peaked as Mr. Eagle told them all to gather for a picture. After this, they were guided by the chaperones to meet Judge Walsh and a variety of speakers including the state attorney and a defense attorney in a large courtroom.  Once all the speakers introduced themselves and their roles the students were broken up into several groups with a variety of events taking place after.

Some groups spoke to more judges, and all the groups observed different types of real court hearings emphasizing how calm and uneventful cases usually are unlike dramatizations in shows and entertainment. The tours also highlighted how varied roles are in the justice system exemplified when the groups gathered back at the large courtroom from the start of the trip to meet the main speaker a forensic detective discussing how intricate and detailed cases and evidence can become. The seriousness was wonderfully contrasted after the speech, “We met Hatty, the victim witness dog that comforts children if they have to testify.”

“I just wanted to see someone get sentenced but now I’m really inspired to be a lawyer.” said fellow MLA senior Jenise Edwards after the trip even though her group didn’t have the time to see a criminal court case, though they did get to talk to a judge and lawyer respectively about their experiences in the justice system which taught Jenise, “Don’t let anyone influence you into doing anything you know you shouldn’t be doing.” No doubt Jenise is a wonderful example of the success the Women Everywhere program has on the communities they support and work with.

I just wanted to see someone get sentenced but now I’m really inspired to be a lawyer.

MLA Students Posing in Front of the Court Building at 26th and California (Mr. Eagle)

The trip concluded with the students being treated to lunch in the form of sub sandwiches and cookies, a satisfying end to a wonderful morning of enrichment for the students.

The trip was certainly intricate in its details of how the court at 26th and California operates on a day-to-day basis opening the minds of the students to just how varied the experiences are for everyone operating in the justice system. “There are more jobs in court than people think, more career paths. People tend to think ‘Lawyer’ when there are a lot of different paths between sheriffs, probation officers, pre-trial officers, and forensic scientists. People that work with victims of crimes or rehabilitation services with rehabilitation services for criminals. There’s a lot of different ways that people can be part of that world.” Mr. Eagle stated on his perspective on the takeaway of the trip.

There’s a lot of different ways that people can be part of that world.

The opportunity that Women Everywhere provided to MLA was a unique and incredibly valuable one for the young women who attended. If anyone was inspired to interact with the justice system, hopefully, it isn’t because they need to defend their innocence or lack of guilt.