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GIVING BACK

Shannon Davis, 2015 recipient of the Audrey J. Harris Summer Internship Award, interned at the Dane County Juvenile Reception Center.

I am a senior at UW-Madison majoring in Social Work with a certificate in Criminal Justice. I plan to continue my education to achieve a Master’s of Social Work, eventually working professionally to reform adult and juvenile corrections from a retributive to a restorative model.

I found myself struggling to put into words just how valuable my summer criminal justice internship has been at the Dane County Juvenile Reception Center. I will start by saying I have literally learned and grown by leaps and bounds each and every day I have spent in my internship. I have learned the Wisconsin statutes governing children and juveniles by seeing them come to life within the Juvenile Court System. I have observed court proceedings and hearings regarding juvenile offenders. I have submitted official court reports about specific juveniles and the circumstances around their referral to the Juvenile Court System. I have counseled juveniles and families, who are often having the worst day of their lives. I have determined and arranged temporary custody placements for alleged juvenile offenders. I have learned about cooperation and collaboration with fellow juvenile court workers so the very best service decisions are made on each and every case that comes before us. Lastly, I was able to put the tremendous knowledge I have accrued at UW-Madison into action in real-world situations and realized just how prepared I am to begin a career in Social Work and Criminal Justice.

The tremendous opportunities I have been afforded at the Juvenile Reception Center could only be equaled by opportunities to shadow Social Workers, Judges, Assistant District Attorneys, Public Defenders, Victim/Witness Advocates, Juvenile Court Counselors, and Directors at coordinating agencies. I was encouraged to seek out opportunities to see how the entire Juvenile Court System functioned, and made the best use of these once in a lifetime experiences. I spent a day sitting on the bench, hearing juvenile court cases. One day I went on a ride along with a Home Detention Supervisor. I also observed the job duties of a Juvenile Detention and Shelter Manager. I have networked with professionals in both criminal justice and social work, who have shared their life’s knowledge, encompassing decades of work. Their wisdom has proven essential in working with children and families in crisis. So, as one can see, very few words could ever truly describe my internship experience. It has been the most phenomenally awesome splendidly magnificent superiorly outstanding learning experience in my life, and even that does not do it justice (no pun intended)!