The Long Beach Prosecutor’s Office will host its first youth-oriented criminal law and justice conference Thursday, a four-hour seminar offering teens and young adults an intimate look at criminal justice career paths and topics as told by high-profile names in the industry.
The Law and Justice Leadership Summit will feature a panel of six prominent figures in the criminal justice sectors including FBI Special Agent Evette Rivera, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, Superior Court Judge Kelvin D. Filer, Long Beach Police Department Detective Chris Zamora and Jessica Owen, a California Deputy Attorney General.
The sixth speaker, Jose Osuna, a nonprofit leader, gang-intervention expert and ex-convict, will discuss strategies to reduce crime by rehabilitation and prevention measures.
The free, virtual seminar was curated specially by students, for students considering career paths in public service, law or law enforcement. However, any young adult between the ages of 16 and 24 is encouraged to tune in, and access will be prioritized to viewers within that age group.
The summit is the brainchild of 17-year-old Eleni Vallianos and 18-year-old Elizabeth Carrillo. Both are summer interns studying under City Prosecutor Doug Haubert. As a final hurrah, or “swan song,” as Haubert phrased it, the pair devised a program they wish had existed years ago: an encounter focused within the criminal justice sector that would feature inspirational and educational forces in a personal setting.
The two ranked potential speakers: individuals they had either encountered before and deemed pivotal—such as Judge Filer—or who were in prominent career positions that warranted the limelight. Most of their top picks obliged.
Access to these figures can be few and far between. Even rarer are their unabridged stories and experiences. Haubert and his interns have their fingers crossed that students will jump on this opportunity.
“How often do young adults get direct access to the sheriff of a county with 10 million people?” Haubert said. “It’s difficult to meet with a judge and hear that judge’s life story in a setting where you feel like you’re hearing it from him directly.”
Vallianos, who is entering her senior year at Wilson High School and studying law and public service, said she is eager to hear the day-to-day routines of Sherriff Villanueva.
McBride High School graduate Carrillo, who is heading to Fordham College, said she’s excited to learn about Osuna’s rehabilitation after his incarceration.
“I’m really interested to learn about his journey,” she said. “How he went through the criminal justice system, and he got out of it and teaching people how not to repeat that cycle and break out of it.”
The other component to the seminar that Carrillo expressed interest in strays from the testimonial to the empirical. Deputy Attorney General Owen and LBPD Detective Zamora will share behind-the-scenes glimpses into the drawn-out, yet successful prosecution of a sex trafficking case in LA County.
“We’re calling it the anatomy of a human trafficking case,” Haubert said. “We’re going to take you step-by-step in a real human trafficking case that involved two women that were trafficked right here in our backyard.”
Haubert said he hopes this summit won’t be the last.
“I do believe that this will probably be the first of many law and justice summits. I don’t know anybody else, in any other city that’s doing something like this for its youth,” Haubert said.
Next year, Haubert said, he and his interns intend to host a second annual summit in person. But for now, the inaugural show will proceed virtually. The event runs from 8:45 a.m. until 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12.
You can register here.
Editor’s note: Jose Osuna is a member of the Long Beach Post’s Community Editorial Board, which writes editorials and opinion pieces. They do not have any control over news stories like this one.