The following letter has been lightly edited for clarity and style. It was approved by the Seton Hall AAUP advocacy chapter on Friday, Sept. 3.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
On November 14th, the Criminal Justice Student Association (CJSA) held its first speaker event of the academic year. The Honorable Patricia K. Costello gave a lecture on “The Role of a Chief Judge: Managing Crises and Improving the System.” Judge Costello discussed a range of issues spanning her 25-year career within the Judiciary as a superior court judge, including the last decade as the Assignment Judge in Essex County. Over 100 students were in attendance to hear Judge Costello speak on the interactions between judges, administrators, defendants, victims, and the press, among other stakeholders in the justice system. Judge Costello also spoke on the importance of the Sheriff’s Office and its impact on the operations of a courthouse. The Judge’s address showed that these daily interactions proved to be considerably more complex than expected. Among other obligations, the Sheriff’s Office is principally responsible for overseeing the security of the courthouse which is a complex operation. The Sheriff is often compelled to balance the protection of the courts with maintaining a positive image within the community – a critical aspect of their job because the Sheriff is an elected official. These dual and sometimes competing goals can be challenging for the Sheriff who must make the difficult choices in where and how to allocate limited resources. Not unlike the Sheriff’s Office, the press also serves a pivotal role in the community that can present challenges in the day-to-day management of a courthouse. Aside from the core function and connection the press has within the courts, the judge discussed specific instances when in the course of doing their job, members of the media can expose jurors and victims with undue risk by breaching the court’s policy and procedure. Students commented very positively about having had the opportunity to hear the first-hand experiences of a former Assignment Judge. One criminal justice student noted that it was a special event and that she appreciated having the judge come speak to students because it gave her a different perspective on the justice system. Faculty also thought that the speaker event was successful based on students’ feedback and conveyed their appreciation to Judge Costello for her thought-provoking and insightful lecture. The CJSA looks forward to scheduling more speakers in the future. - Matthew Sloan, student
Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Stop blaming guns for the actions of criminals. All American can agree on at least one thing: A world with less violence is a good thing. Notice I did not say gun violence, domestic violence, or hate-crime based violence. All violence is an issue, and those who commit those acts should be punished. The nature of criminals is that they do not follow laws. Writing more restrictions into law will not deter criminals from committing crimes. They do not follow the laws, to begin with, and why would they start now? The article [We need stricter gun laws to stop gun violence, Oct. 31, 2018] says, ‘Gun control may not prevent all shootings, but something has to be done because society is becoming more accustomed and desensitized to these shootings, which isn’t good.’ Writing laws that will have no effect on the actions of those who already will not follow the law to make people feel good about making progress is unproductive and pushes us back from having the real conversation. I will concede that background checks are a common-sense measure to fight against gun violence. Although, there are significant issues with the system. Namely keeping criminal infractions off of juvenile records and allowing minors to not face the consequences of their actions. Instead of forgiving and forgetting the crimes of youth, such as drug offenses and run-ins with the police, we need to rehabilitate and remember, so when that child that got caught selling coke tries to buy a handgun legally, they cannot because of their record. I retain the objections to assuming that a background check will stop gun violence. If a criminal wants to buy a gun, they will get one. It is not a matter of whether a background check will prevent criminals from getting guns, because it will not. Thinking that because now weapons are banned, criminals will not use that weapon is a naïve belief that criminals will follow the law. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.”- Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of NRA. Maxwell James, freshman accounting major