About Justice Education
Justice education is a type of public legal education that is intended for someone who is not in the middle of a legal crisis. It is more than just learning legal information from a powerpoint slide. Justice education involves teaching people how our system of law-making and enforcement works, helping them meet people who work in the justice system, and building the basic skills that a person needs to manage the legal aspects of everyday problems.
In other words, justice education is about building legal capability.
A legally capable person knows how to recognize that an issue has a legal dimension, knows how (and where) to ask for help, and understands they will get the best resolution if they address their legal issues at the earliest stages. To build these capabilities, a person needs:
- knowledge about the law and the legal system,
- skills for communicating their perspective and participating in legal processes, and
- confidence in themselves, and in the justice system.
Building confidence in the justice system and trust in legal professionals takes time and effort, especially for communities that have historically negative relationships with the law. Our justice education programs offer young people the opportunity to:
- meet lawyers and judges directly,
- have open and honest conversations with justice sector professionals,
- be heard and treated respectfully by law enforcement, and
- have terms and processes explained in a relaxed environment.
These are all easier forms of direct interaction that build trust. To make these interactions possible, we rely on a broad roster of volunteers, including:
- justices of the peace,
- police officers,
- law school students,
- court staff, and other justice sector professionals.
Justice education is at its best when it starts early, encouraging open dialogue and nurturing students’ curiosity about how the system works. For our justice sector volunteers, it promotes honest reflection about how the justice system could work better. When justice sector volunteers attend our programs, they bring their knowledge and experience of the legal system to share with the participants. Young people, in turn, can share their lived experience and knowledge of their community. Both volunteers and youth participants have an opportunity to challenge their assumptions of one another and to build better relationships.