Public Defender Bennett H. Brummer visits Miami High for Law Week
Miami, FL May 17, 1999 As part of Law
Week, Miami-Dade Public Defender Bennett H. Brummer talked with a class at Miami Senior
High School about the criminal justice system and how he does his job.
"We represent only indigent defendants in danger of losing their liberty,"
Brummer told students. "In doing so, we uphold the constitutional ideal of freedom
that every person charged with a crime is entitled to an attorney. There is a real threat
to our freedom because every year more and more laws are passed that make it easier to
sentence people to prison for longer times."
Brummer said his clients legal issues often stem from drug abuse or mental health
problems. Once they are arrested, clients often receive little assistance with the causes
because the system is designed to punish, not help people.
However, Brummer is working to change that with his innovative Anti-Violence Initiative
(AVI), collaborations between his office and governmental and community organizations that
are directed toward identifying clients problems and getting them addressed
Many of the 36 students in the class participate in Miami Senior Highs newly
created Academy of Law and Public Affairs. The academy exposes them to a broad range of
law-related issues to encourage and help them decide whether to pursue a career in law.
Seventeen-year-old Christian Andrade enjoyed Brummers visit. "I now
understand more about law," he said.
Added Tamker Valley, 18, who wants to go into in law enforcement: "Mr. Brummer was
very straightforward and not afraid to say what he thinks. You can tell he is dedicated to
what he does. I appreciate that."
Ed Asper, the teacher in charge of the academy, said the visit enabled his students to
meet someone in a high position in government who shared with them how things work in the
real world. "This made our classroom more of a living laboratory," he said.
Brummer said he was energized by spending time with bright, young people with open
minds. "The students clearly believe there is a need for a better balance between
rehabilitation and retribution," he said.
Law Week, which is observed the first week of every May across the nation, offers
public leaders an opportunity to cultivate respect for the law that is vital to our
democratic, free society.