CHARLESTON – United States Attorney R. Booth Goodwin II honored 40 high school juniors with the U.S. Attorney’s Ambassador for Justice Award during a noon ceremony held April 23 at the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Federal Courthouse in Charleston. The U.S. Attorney’s Ambassador for Justice Award program is an initiative led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia which recognizes high school juniors who have shown outstanding leadership skills and a commitment to social justice.
“I was very pleased to honor 40 high school juniors from throughout the Southern District as United States Attorney Ambassadors for Justice,” U.S. Attorney Goodwin said. “These are students with a good ethical compass who would be willing to step forward and do something if one of their peers was making a self-destructive decision or bullying someone else.”
Goodwin continued, “I am confident that they will take an active role in building and sustaining a dialogue. Their ideas and perspectives are invaluable toward rooting out current social issues and threats that jeopardize student achievement.”
Goodwin said that his office is deeply concerned with solving issues affecting young people throughout the southern portion of West Virginia’s 23-county federal judicial district.
“This isn’t just an award and a title. My hope is that this will be the start of a mission for me, my office, our schools, our communities and for each of these Ambassadors for Justice so that together we can exert positive influences in our schools and communities,” said Goodwin.
The U.S. Attorney’s Ambassador for Justice program was created by U.S. Attorney Goodwin as a result of numerous reports of school bullying and social media threats involving young people. The award was also prompted by a February school shooting which claimed the lives of three young people and wounded two others at Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio, as well as other events that have taken place in the U.S. Attorney’s district.
Goodwin also said that several studies have shown that more than 60 percent of bullies in school typically end up serving time in jail by the time they reach their 20s.
Nominations for the U.S. Attorney’s Ambassador for Justice Award were made by the principal and administrative leaders of the student’s respective school. Goodwin said that outstanding character, devotion to citizenship, and a commitment to serving others were also fundamentals for the award nomination.
The U.S. Attorney’s Ambassador for Justice Award presentation coincided with the 12th annual commemoration ceremony in recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, led by Operation Reach Out. Operation Reach Out consists of various federal, state and local agencies that have committed to raising awareness concerning crime victims’ rights, as well as educating the public regarding crime prevention and safety.