4 Justice Studies Students Write Book – “Guardians of Justice”

Book cover

The hope is that this book will serve as a resource for RIC students interested in criminal justice careers, said the authors.

Four justice studies students wrote a 116-page book in which they interviewed professionals in the field of criminal justice. The authors are Ethan Bernardo ’24, Tyler Morra ’24, Troy Morgan ’24 and Priscilla Nichols ’24.

Their book includes interviews with DEA and FBI agents, local and state police officers, a judge and defense attorney, the executive director of the Rhode Island Training School for juvenile offenders, and the chair of the Probation and Parole Board for adults exiting the prison system.

The book is named in their honor – “Guardians of Justice.”

This work evolved from a senior capstone project assigned by Professor of Sociology Jill Harrison. Students were required to interview three professionals who work in areas they would like to pursue for their own careers and to research their roles. Bernardo wants to join the FBI, Morra wants to pursue law and Morgan and Nichols want to become Rhode Island state troopers.

Together, they produced a compilation of their interviews, research and insights so that it can be a resource for students who are interested in the careers covered in the book but are unsure of what to expect.

The individuals they interviewed explain what it’s like to work in their professions, what special skills and education are needed and they debunk TV depictions of their roles.

An important part of this book is an examination of what “justice” is and what needs to change to make it more equitable, transparent and restorative rather than punitive. The authors underscore the need for more restorative versus punitive measures to combat crime.

They point to social and economic inequalities that lead to criminal behavior, such as poverty, lack of educational opportunities, underemployment and inadequate mental and physical health care.

“These inequalities are structural, which means that youth and adults who become ensnared in our criminal justice system disproportionately have fewer avenues for success,” the authors write.

That is why focus must be on prevention, says one of their interviewees – the executive director of the Juvenile Training School.

“...that is, preventing people from coming into the criminal justice system in the first place. We start with mothers who are pregnant, making sure they get access to prenatal care. We need to focus on when the baby is born, to make sure it gets proper health care. Then we must focus on schools, making sure schools are funded adequately and appropriately. We need to focus on kids, because kids turn into adults, and adults turn into decision makers. If we don’t invest in kids at an early age, then we won’t reap benefits later on, and the pipeline to prison continues.”

The hope is that this compilation of interviews will serve as a resource for RIC students interested in pursuing careers in this field.

To those professionals who are already serving in this capacity, the authors state:

“Their selflessness and exceptional commitment to their careers are inspirational to us, and we are indebted to them for their time, insights and dedication to their work.”

See “Guardians of Justice: Interviews with Law Enforcement and Legal Minds