Dr. Michael O. Adams, founding director of the Executive Master of Public Administration (eMPA) program at TSU, and eMPA professor Carroll G. Robinson, Esq., are the recipients of a $15,000 grant from the Criminal Justice REFORM Foundation (REFORM Alliance). The grant will help fund the participation of TSU in beta testing the REFORM Alliance Court Watch App this fall.
“This is an incredible opportunity for our students,” said Adams. “It provides valuable experience in tech, public policy and criminal justice, and students get a chance to provide direct input while gaining a deeper understanding of how critical data is in shifting public policy. We look forward to nurturing this partnership with the REFORM Alliance to create more opportunities for our students.”
The Court Watch App is an innovative solution to increase transparency within the U.S. judicial system. A first of its kind, the app creates a user-friendly access point, via a mobile phone, for everyday citizens to monitor America’s courtrooms. Throughout the fall semester, approximately 20-30 TSU students will attend court hearings remotely and/or in person and provide weekly feedback in debriefing sessions to directly improve the app’s performance and content.
“This project is the kind of work that reflects the legacy of Barbara Jordan and Mickey Leland because it is focused on the common good,” said Robinson. “Criminal justice reform is under attack, and to ensure justice is fair and balanced you need good data to protect the civil and constitutional rights of all who depend on the system.”
“Systemic racism in the criminal justice system remains one of the greatest threats to our democracy. From racial profiling to mass incarceration and the structuring of probation and parole programs, the adverse effects on communities, and in some cases the families of our own students, hit close to home. At TSU, 80% of our student population is African American. Through the REFORM Alliance partnership students will engage in transformative service research by helping to improve a mobile application that will be used by Americans from across the nation. This groundbreaking application will make civic engagement and oversight in the criminal justice system accessible in a way our nation has never seen,” said Adams.
Adams is also excited about the 30 internships created through this collaboration, and hopes to foster more partnerships that invite TSU students to be change agents.
“When I shared with Dr. Adams our ‘Internship 1,000 Initiative’—a campaign to create 1,000 internship opportunities for TSU students, he was immediately onboard and looked at a way to support us,” said Dexter Maryland, TSU SGA president. “The SGA is excited to be a part of this collaboration as we move closer to our goal.”
“This internship will teach students the power of data collection while giving them the opportunity to contribute to criminal justice reform and oversight nationally,” said Subria Lapps, principal at Transform Equity & Partnership Consultant. “Young people are inheriting a world where big data dominates decision-making in public policy, and opportunities that empower them to hold our institutions accountable are what we need more of.”