An academy for citizens

Published 9:52 pm Friday, September 16, 2016

Citizens of Suffolk have an opportunity to learn more about how the criminal justice system works from the prosecutorial side, as Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips “Phil” Ferguson will be presenting the fifth installment of his popular Citizens’ Academy, starting next week.

“I think it’s important that people have an opportunity to come in and see exactly what it is that we do and how we do it,” Ferguson said this week. “I think it’s imperative people understand how we fit into the whole judicial process.”

Ferguson and his staff will endeavor to teach participants some of the finer points of that process in a series of sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Sept. 22 through Oct. 27.

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Attorneys in his office will talk about the prosecution of juvenile and child abuse crimes, violent crimes, domestic violence crimes and more. Other staff members will discuss community outreach and services the office provides to victims and witnesses.

Participants will also be visited by Suffolk’s four other elected constitutional officers — the sheriff, the clerk of the court, the commissioner of revenue and the treasurer — who will talk about their duties and attempt to clarify the sometimes-murky workings of their offices. Those sessions will include a tour of the courthouse, led by representatives of the sheriff’s office.

The academy will meet from 6 to 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday from Sept. 22 to Oct. 27, with the exception of Oct. 6.

An application can be downloaded from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s website,, and more information can be obtained by calling Community Outreach Coordinator Joan Turner at 514-4379.

This is a good chance to get a look at the inner workings of some of the city’s most misunderstood offices, and spaces are still available. Sign up now, while there’s still time.