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Get schooled on the law at Citizens Prosecution Academy
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Get schooled on the law at Citizens Prosecution Academy

Want to learn more about the justice system without being on the wrong side of the law?

Applications for the Citizens Prosecution Academy are being accepted online until Aug. 31 by the Pima County Attorney’s Office.

The free eight-week program teaches groups of 70-75 students about law enforcement and the justice system, said Stephanie Coronado, a staffer for County Attorney Barbara LaWall.

Topics that will be covered in the program include cold case homicides, prosecuting sexually violent predators, gangs, narcotics, crime scene investigations, witness protection, firearms and ballistics, Internet crimes against children, sex crimes and stalking, domestic violence and victim services. The course also includes visits to the crime laboratory, the state prison, the juvenile detention center and the Pima County jail.

"Students are given a glimpse of what it’s like on the inside of a prison or jail. It’s an extensive tour," Coronado said in an interview.

One former student said everyone should be required to take the classes.

"I can’t explain how beneficial it is to be more familiar with the Pima County prosecutor's office. Working for a financial institution, it has enlightened me on cases that involve foreclosures with regards to judicial and non-judicial states," said Denise Lopez, who took the class earlier this year.

"I know how my taxes are being spent along with the awareness of making bad choices, like drinking and driving or texting while driving," she said.

The academy is "an amazing opportunity for people to meet prosecutors and staff from the County Attorney’s Office and get an insider’s look at what we do and how we do it," said LaWall in a press release.

The classes run Sept. 6-Oct. 24. Classes will meet Tuesdays, 6-9 p.m., in the auditorium of the Tucson Police Department's Rillito substation, 1310 W. Miracle Mile.

Each session of the course receives about 700 applicants, of which 70-75 are picked to ensure that everyone receives individual attention, Coronado said.

Background checks are preformed on those who are chosen to participate, she said. Students are given a certificate of completion at the end of the program.

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