Readers have their say.

Fall 2018 Cover

Re: Fall 2018

Incredible photo! I was moved to tears reading the article on Mr. Hanlon (“Larger than Life”).
– Jennifer Moroch Fara via Instagram

I agree with giving employees an expanded paid family leave (“Family Matters”). I remember when starting in the workplace they did not have employee leave to take care of a parent or child. The only paid leave was for six months, and you could stay at home with your baby up to a year without pay. But you always had a job to go back to. They never replaced you. I am a mother of two adult children, and I can tell you it wasn’t easy when you have to combine work plus your children’s activities.
Sandra Cobo ’88 via Facebook

A Meaningful Experience

It was 1982 and I was a senior majoring in criminal justice at Monmouth College when I was offered one of the first criminal justice internships in Monmouth’s Cooperative Education Program. I received a message from my professor that there was an internship opportunity at the Monmouth County Youth Detention Center in Freehold, New Jersey, for a criminal justice major, and they were offering it to me. I agreed to take this opportunity to see firsthand how the criminal justice system operated, from apprehension, to a juvenile court hearing, and ultimately to incarceration if the accused was found guilty. The goals for this internship involved observing the functioning of the detention center, including inmate interaction with correctional officers and classroom and recreation activities; logging those activities; interviewing inmates; attending court hearings; and attending meetings with the superintendent of the center on any possible improvements.

One of the most interesting aspects of this experience was observing the interaction between inmates and corrections officers. I was most impressed with the professionalism exemplified by the officers despite the difficult situations they often faced. Although it was a juvenile facility, some of the inmates were charged with violent crimes and were considered very dangerous. There was a healthy mix of potentially violent juveniles and others who may have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

One of my most memorable experiences was a time when a correction officer and I were observing inmates during outdoor recreation, and I noticed one inmate shooting baskets by himself. The officer then asked the inmate if I could play a game with him. The juvenile inmate, who was being detained there for a somewhat violent crime, accepted. As I walked onto the court, the officer quietly gave me some last-minute words of advice: “Make sure you let him win.” It turned out to be a very fun and friendly game, and yes, he won. (FYI – He probably would have won anyway because my basketball skills back then were not the greatest.)

My observations of the Detention Center’s classrooms were also enlightening. I was able to witness how the students were educated and view their interactions with teachers and each other in a correctional institution setting. I recall some positive, and some not so positive, interactions during these classes. For example, some juvenile inmates were better than others at taking constructive criticism from their teachers during the classes.

My meetings with the superintendent were always very informative. I was able to discuss what I learned in some of my criminal justice courses at Monmouth, how they related to my experiences at the detention center and the juvenile hearings, and then suggest possible changes or improvements.

The experience turned out to be extremely worthwhile. I was very grateful to Monmouth, my professors, and the Detention Center for this opportunity to learn firsthand the operations of a correctional facility and its role in helping to reduce the rate of repeat offenses.

After graduation, I was employed at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino as a security officer and then as a county investigator and special deputy sheriff for the County of Burlington New Jersey, before going back to school for a paralegal certification and working as a paralegal, senior paralegal, and ultimately as a case manager at several very large law firms in Philadelphia. I am presently a case manager at the law firm of DLA Piper LLP (U.S.), one of the largest law firms in the world.

It’s interesting to note that I was able to relate my internship experiences to many of my current and past employment experiences, both in law enforcement and legal settings.
– Michael Lodato ’82

Tell Us What You Think

Email us at magazine@monmouth.edu, or write us at Monmouth Magazine, Monmouth University, Alumni House, 400 Cedar Ave., West Long Branch, NJ 07764. Submissions for the Letters page are subject to editing for clarity and length and must include the writer’s name, address, and phone number for confirmation.