Seniors Get a Real-World Look at the Field of Criminal Justice

Seniors Get a Real-World Look at the Field of Criminal Justice

Firsthand accounts of cases and clients gave seniors in SCH’s Crime, Punishment & Justice course a real-world glimpse into our justice system. A panel of experts in the field (judges, detectives, attorneys, and teachers), who also happen to be current and former SCH parents, shared their career trajectories and the highs and lows of their work. The class also participated in breakout sessions in which students were able to ask questions about everything from the panelists’ most challenging cases to their opinions on AI, recidivism, and the clients who changed their lives.

After hearing about the panelists’ careers and their stories, students wrote reflections. One said she felt hopeful after hearing from a judge who “strives to make the court a better place.” Another was grateful for the honest conversation with a panelist. “This is something we have spent a lot of time learning about in class, I felt like everything I was learning was coming to reality in front of me as she shared stories about her clients,” said the student.

During the semester, seniors explored different facets of crime, punishment, and justice in the U.S., analyzing data and uncovering perspectives of victims, bystanders, perpetrators, and members of the justice system. They also considered, among other topics, how nonfiction and fictional genres reinforce or dismantle stereotypes of victims and perpetrators and the impact this has on society. 

“My hope is that students and panelists had an opportunity to ask questions, express their opinions, and challenge ideas in an engaging format,” said teacher Colleen DiDonato. 

Many thanks to our esteemed panelists for their time and insights: The Honorable Diana L. Anhalt P’23, P’25, a judge in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia; Jennifer Chiccarino P’30, P’33, assistant chief of the Capital Habeas Unit of the Community Federal Defender’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; Ed McCann P’09, First Assistant District Attorney in Montgomery County; Sarah McDowell P’16, P’19, History Department chair at SCH and former public defender; The Honorable Mia Roberts Perez P’36, United States district judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; Tracy Piatkowski P’24, P’27, P’30, a Deputy Attorney General in the Criminal Law Division of the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General; Detective Tim Scally P’23, P’26, a homicide detective with the Philadelphia Police Department; The Honorable Kai Scott P’28, United States district judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; Nadine Badger Stevenson ’90, P’24, P’27, senior counsel for Business at the Philadelphia Housing Authority; and Bob Wainwright P’27, P’30, an Assistant District Attorney in the Homicide Unit of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

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