M-DCPS partners with Public Defender’s Office on Criminal Justice Education Youth Program

Since 2019, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) has been partnering with the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office on Consequences Aren’t Minor (CAM), an interactive, educational program to help reduce the massive numbers of arrests that disproportionately impact minorities.

Designed by Public Defender Carlos Martinez, CAM aims to educate students and parents on how “childhood indiscretions” can lead to life-altering consequences with the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

“The district is grateful to be partnering with the Public Defender’s Office as they share this initiative with our students,” said Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho. “Educating our children about the consequences their actions have is the first step in ensuring they remain in school so they can reach their fullest potential.”

Since its inception, the CAM program has offered live presentations to more than 1,300 M-DCPS students after the school board approved an item to explore the implementation of the initiative, proffered by board member Mari Tere Rojas at its September 2018 meeting.

Prior to schools temporarily closing their doors in March 2020 due to COVID-19, live presentations were made to nearly 5,000 students.

“After having had the privilege of listening to the presentation of the Consequences Aren’t Minor program by Public Defender Martinez, I realized the importance of the far-reaching consequences of an arrest, a plea, a conviction, and an adjudication,” Rojas said.

“That is why I proffered the item in 2018 to explore the feasibility of implementing and expanding this program in M-DCPS. Staff continued working with the Office of the Public Defender exploring the potential of additional presentations. I am delighted to see this program being delivered to our students, as many of them are not cognizant of the potential consequences of their actions,” Rojas added.

“We are honored to be working with M-DCPS to help children succeed. Teaching children to recognize bumps on the road will hopefully prevent a youthful stumble from becoming a lifetime barrier to success,” Public Defender Martinez said.

M-DCPS’ innovative educators in the Office of Academics and Transformation, School Operations, and Adult/Tech/DEOA have created a visual CAM presentation in conjunction with the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office. Through CAM’s interactive presentation and discussion, students and parents learn about current laws. The program also contains a lively discussion about the far-reaching consequences of an arrest, plea, conviction and adjudication.

The goals of the CAM program include:
• Reducing delinquent and criminal behavior.
• Educating young people to keep them from engaging in delinquent behavior.
• Educating parents so they can prevent their children from engaging in delinquent behavior.
• Dispelling myths about the juvenile court being a slap on the wrist.
• Educating elected officials and legislators so they can fix the draconian and ineffective laws that make it easier for kids to get a job from a drug dealer than a car dealer.
• Educate the general public so they can provide informed recommendations for improvements to the juvenile justice system.

For more information, visit the CAM page on the Office of the Public Defender website.

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