Alumna helps victims of crime
Kennesha Jackson is a 2012 graduate of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the College of Public Programs at Arizona State University. She administers a state victim's rights fund for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
Question: Can you talk about what you do for the Attorney General's Office?
Answer: For more than a year, I interned for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office of Victim Services as an advocate. Joining the fulltime staff of Arizona Attorney General’s Office in 2013, I worked as a both a victim advocate and restitution advocate where I gained ample exposure to victims’ rights by monitoring criminal cases through my direct involvement with case management in the pre-conviction and post-conviction phase. Recently, I was promoted to the State Victims’ Rights Administrator – Lead Funder where I direct the administration and monitoring of a $3.2 million dollar Victims’ Right Fund distributed to criminal justice agencies statewide.
Question: For students or alumni who are unfamiliar with the way victim restitution works, can you explain the system in a nutshell?
Answer: Restitution is money ordered to a victim if he or she suffered an economic loss as a direct result from the crime for which the defendant was convicted. Restitution is usually ordered at the time of sentencing but the Court can maintain jurisdiction over restitution and set a Restitution Hearing for a later date. If restitution is ordered, the Court will consider the defendant’s ability to pay and will determine a payment schedule. If the defendant is sentenced to probation, the defendant may be ordered to pay restitution in monthly increments as a term of probation. If the defendant is sentenced to prison, the Arizona Department of Corrections can withdraw a minimum of 20 percent of the inmate’s spendable account, which includes in-custody earnings and contributions from friends and family. All restitution payments are paid to and disbursed by the Clerk of the Court.
Question: You earned your Master's Degree from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Can you talk about how your education prepared you for your position?
Answer: I graduated from high school at age 16, received my Bachelor’s degree at the age of 20 and graduated from the Master’s Degree program at School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at 22. My area of interest was victimization and courts and sentencing. Since I had strong interest in victims’ rights and the prosecution of criminal cases, I decided to participate in the internship program in order to gain practical experience in the field while earning my degree. In July of 2011, I was offered an internship with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office of Victim Services. After more than a year of volunteering with the Office of Victim Services and upon completion of my degree, I knew I wanted to help serve victims of crime. I am confident my academic preparation in the Master’s Degree program coupled with my experience in victim services has provided me with the knowledge, skills and abilities to serve as an advocate and in my new role as the State Victims’ Rights Administrator – Lead Funder.
Question: What do current students need to know about the School from your perspective?
Answer: The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice is a great program. In every course, I recommend students read all required and supplemental materials. Take advantage of office hours and do not be afraid to ask questions. Utilize resources available to you, such as the writing center, if you need sharpen or improve your writing skills. What you put into the program is what you get out of it.
Question: Any favorite classes or professors?
Answer: Justin Ready was one of my favorite professors while earning my Master’s Degree in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. I had a pleasure of being a student in his Seminar in Criminal Justice course and he made it very interesting. He is skilled in criminology and provides great examples by implementing his work with the Police Foundation in class discussions.
Question: Any other experiences at CCJ you want to talk about?
Answer: Upon admission to the Master's Degree program in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, I was nominated to be a recipient of the Graduate College Dean’s Fellowship, which supports regularly-admitted first year graduate degree students who are Arizona residents or underrepresented in their discipline. I became a fellow in 2010 and the award helped pay for my first year’s tuition expenses. In addition, I was a teaching assistant for one of the first online course assistants for the School. It was a pleasure working under the leadership of CCJ Online director Daniel Zorich along with the professor and instructors I assisted.
Question: For students who are looking for career tips, any advice?
Answer: Take advantage of the CRJ internship program and gain practical experience in your field of interest. Internships do lead to jobs and also provide students with the skills and experience needed in order to carry out the daily duties of a full time employee. I would not be this far, early on in my career, had I not participated in the internship program. Robbin Brooks was a great internship coordinator and I have to thank her for encouraging me to participate in the internship program.