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November 4, 2009: I Love My Internship!
Joseph A. Marutollo
November 4, 2009
I Love My Internship!
I have the privilege of working as an Honors Prosecution Extern this semester. The Honors Prosecution Externship gives students the opportunity to actively participate in the daily preparation and prosecution of criminal cases in the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office pursuant to a Student Practice Order from New York State’s Appellate Division. Honors Externs draft accusatory instruments, interview witnesses, conduct arraignments, negotiate plea bargains, appear at calendar calls, engage in motion practice and discovery, conduct hearings, and actively participate in trials. Honors externs also receive intensive training in prosecutorial skills and New York State criminal procedure law in weekly seminars.
As an honors extern, I was fortunate enough to attend the White Plains Drug Treatment Court Graduation. I am very interested in narcotics prosecution and the need for drug treatment, rather than incarceration, for nonviolent drug offenders. As an undergraduate, I wrote my senior thesis on the effectiveness of drug courts. As a result of my research and observations, I truly believe that drug courts serve to reduce criminal recidivism and improve the lives of those afflicted with drug addiction.
The graduation in White Plains certainly affirmed my support for drug courts. The White Plains drug court staff, which included prosecutors, defense attorneys, drug counselors, and judges, organized a ceremony for nine defendants who successfully completed the drug court program in the rotunda of the White Plains City Court. The defendants completed a lengthy treatment program in lieu of incarceration. The ceremony, which technically served as a court proceeding dismissing each defendant’s case, began with brief remarks from District Attorney Janet DiFiore. Each defendant then spoke about their experiences and the perils of drug addiction. One defendant read a heartfelt poem about the evils of his addiction; another defendant credited the drug court program with turning his life around and keeping him sober. All of the defendants expressed gratitude for the hard work of the prosecutors involved in the program. Each seemed to appreciate the “tough love” approach that the prosecutors offered: support during challenging times but also the threat of jail if any relapses into drug use occurred. It was truly inspiring to watch the criminal justice system successfully improve the lives of these defendants.
This has been a tremendous internship thus far and I am honored to be a part of it.