The Mirror

The Student News Site of Merrillville High School

The Mirror

The Mirror

Students step into world of Criminal Justice

Students examine a crime scene during a criminal justice class.

Senior Jarrod Davis witnessed his first dead body at the age of 11. Seeing a man lay in the street for two days thinking he was homeless and not knowing he was lifeless encouraged him to become a homicide detective.

Jarrod is one of many students at Merrillville High School that takes criminal justice with Ms.Dabney-Houseworth and has an interest in pursuing a career in the field.

“With Mrs.Dabney-Houseworth she not only teaches criminal justice but also helps you for when you graduate and get you ready for the real world,” Davis said.

Mrs. Dabney-Houseworth’s background as a federal police officer makes her uniquely qualified to lead the program.

“I am able to give the students my perspective stories, and real life hands-on experience. During my time as a federal police officer, I was also a training officer and supervisor. Teaching comes naturally and it’s a passion that I have. It’s not just a job,” she said.

The classes go over the principles of the three major parts of the criminal justice system: law enforcement, courts and corrections.

“She taught us how to cuff people, taught us how to hold a weapon in the most manarabe way, know our rights, what not to do in certain situations, shows us body cam footage. She really goes over things you won’t find out till later on in life,” Davis said.

The class also goes over plenty of real-life scenarios that people in the criminal justice field go through on a daily basis, including how to cuff people, how to hold a weapon, and handling various situations. Last year, students went to the field house with Ms. Dabney-Houseworth and Officer Terry Bronowski, the school resource officer. 

“They gave us a shield and a baton, and we had to run around in circles and lose our breath, and then defend ourselves from her and Officer Terry,” Davis said. Also recently we had to cuff her and she was moving around and I had to use my force to get her to the ground and make sure she stands still.” 

The class teaches about the different jobs available in the Criminal Justice Field. Students can also receive a Jailer Certification, which aligns with being a Correctional Officer. 

“You don’t have to be a police officer” Ms. Dabney-Houseworth said. “There is much more to it. I always try to get guest speakers when they are available to come and speak with students about their jobs. ” 

Mrs. Dabney-Houseworth believes students learn some essential life lessons from the program.

“Every chapter that we do there is something for the students to take away,” she said. “More so, what I stress is that I want students to know their rights when they leave the program. Sometimes the outside world is unkind and it is important to know what to do when you may have an encounter with the law because one mistake can change your life forever.

The class has helped Senior Serenity Baranda pursue her goal of becoming a public defender.

“It helps me learn different aspects of laws. We learn about the political things going on, we learn about diversity, we talk about what challenges we may face with different people and how culture defines us and diversity helps us achieve a better goal,” she said.

Baranda also said that the support from Mrs. Dabney-Houseworth has played a crucial role in her career choice. 

“I like how she is very one-on-one with us. She helps us if we have a problem; she helps us a lot outside of school,” she said. “For example, if I want to go to college and want her to talk to one of the coaches or criminal justice teacher, she would help with that.”

Baranda’s mom is the one who inspired her career choice.

“She was a really big influence because she didn’t have anyone to speak up for her, so I wanted to speak for her and for anyone else who doesn’t have a voice or someone to protect them. That’s what public defense is about,” she said.





Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Mirror Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *