The Red River Parish District Attorney’s office is pleased to introduce Project L.E.A.D. (Legal Enrichment And Decision-Making). This new program, implemented by District Attorney Julie C. Jones, strives to better prepare students to make the right choices by educating them on various aspects of the law and familiarizing them with the criminal justice system and how it functions. During the eleven week course, the students in the Red River Elementary 5th grade class and the 5th and 6th grade students at Riverdale Academy work with various law enforcement agencies to better understand what role each agency plays in the criminal justice system and how all of these agencies work together. Class topics cover a view of the criminal justice system by providing students with a knowledge of the law and how the criminal justice system operates when it is alleged that a law has been violated; beginning with detainment or arrest and following through to the sentencing of an offender if s/he is found guilty. Students are also instructed on how the criminal justice system differs for the juvenile offender.
Classes are taught by the Louisiana State Police on Drunk Driving, Drinking and Dying (cause and effect role-play centered on the death of a friend) and Internet Safety. Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries teaches classes on Boating Safety and ATV Safety. The Red River Parish Sheriff’s office instructs students on Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicles and Gun Safety. The District Attorney’s Office leads classes on Dating Violence, Bullying and Truancy. These lessons include a discussion of the law, followed by role play learning activities in which the students act out a fact scenario and then discuss the law in connection with the facts presented.
Project L.E.A.D. also includes field trips to the courthouse. These field trips include a tour of the courthouse and courtroom, where students meet with Judge Lewis Sams and District Attorney Julie Jones. The students then meet with the Red River Parish jail Warden who explains his duties as warden and takes the students on a tour of the jail facilities. The students may also meet with trustees who talk to them about their experiences and counsel them to make better choices. The tour ends with the students meeting with the DA, Sheriff, Clerk of Court, the Red River Parish Police Jury Administrator, Town of Coushatta Mayor, Tax Assessor and Registrar of Voters. Each of these community leaders speaks with the students, describing their duties and how their offices work with other government offices.
At the end of the program students come back to the court house and participate in mock trials. These trials are led by the children and they play the roles of all courtroom personnel from judge to jury, prosecution and defense.