Name: Carolyn Cannizzaro
Class Year: 2019
Hometown: Staten Island, N.Y.
Internship Placement: NYC Criminal Court
Job Title: Drug Treatment Court Intern
Location: New York, N.Y.
What’s happening at your internship?
I work in Manhattan Drug Treatment Court, which is a judicial divergent program created in 1998 to assist those in the criminal justice system who suffer from substance abuse addiction. The program aims to get addicts out of the “revolving door” of crime caused by their dependence on narcotics by offering them an alternative to serving time. With the court’s support, each defendant is given the opportunity to get clean, acquire housing, pursue higher education, and find full-time employment—ultimately with the hope that they can reestablish stability in their lives and move past their addiction. If the defendant successfully completes their mandate, their case is dismissed. The program currently has more clients than ever as it works to help combat the opioid epidemic. I assist the attorneys and case managers assigned to this court with a lot of organizational work to cope with the heavily increased case volume.
Why did you apply for this internship?
I previously interned with an assistant district attorney in Staten Island, who recommended that I take a look at other opportunities in the New York City criminal justice system. I came across this program, which not only assigned interns to work in a court for the summer, but also gave us the opportunity to visit every branch of the NYC criminal court system and meet the various judges, court attorneys, and so on who work there. It sounded like a great opportunity that would provide me with plenty of legal exposure.
Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?
I’ve learned a lot about legal writing and research, which is something I find valuable as a pre-law student. Reading through decisions and case law, as well as taking case notes in court, has given me a good amount of exposure to the reality of the legal profession and has reinforced the fact that this is a career path that I definitely want to pursue. I’ve also become more accustomed to multitasking in a high-stress environment, which will certainly prove helpful during my remaining time at Bryn Mawr.
What is most rewarding about your internship?
Nothing brightens up my day more than seeing that we have a defendant who successfully completed the treatment program coming in to court to receive their last certificate. Overcoming addiction is an immensely difficult task, so to see how far some of these defendants have come and to hear them talk about how much their lives have improved since they began treatment is very moving. Their smiles as they shake hands with the judge remind me of how important criminal justice reform and the work we do in support of rehabilitation is, and make my summer internship experience feel all the more fulfilling.