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Academy Teaches Stockton Students about Criminal Justice System

STOCKTON -- Young people in Stockton wanting to create change are urged to start at home -- that's the message from the San Joaquin County District Attorney's office.

The office is encouraging all entering and graduating high school students to apply to their San Joaquin County Justice Youth Leadership Academy. The program educates young leaders of the court system.

The academy will discuss race, transparency, mental health and other issues.

The DA's office says almost 600 students have participated in the program over the years, including Zephanii Smith, who is now working alongside the district attorney.

"I had the opportunity to go meet with professionals from across the board," Smith said. "Judges, law enforcement, attorneys. I had the opportunity to shadow attorneys and a matter of fact, Tori was one of my mentors that I had the opportunity to shadow"

"'cause they're just an inspiring group of individuals. So, for me, personally, it's been a wonderful journey. I've been involved since the beginning and every year it seems to get better and better," said San Joaquin County DA Tori Verber Salazar

The academy is now in its 18th year. Organizers are hoping to teach at least 30 students over a five-week period. The deadline to apply is 4:30 p.m. on Monday, May 28.