Class of 2023: Recent graduate wants to repair criminal justice system
F or people to respect law enforcement, the criminal justice system must be fair and reasonable—creating policies that make citizens of all classes and races feel safe.
These are the words and hope of Montavious Taylor Sr., a Marine veteran, who earned his master’s in criminal justice at Georgia College & State University in December.
He wants to be part of the change that makes justice equitable for all people.
“I grew up witnessing the good and bad of the criminal justice system,” Taylor said, “from seeing it save families from abusive and negative situations to innocently ripping families apart, and I could never understand the why’s of the situation. So, I took my grandfather's advice. He always told me, ‘If you don’t like what you see—be the change you want to see.’”
Taylor lives in Perry, Georgia, with his wife and three children: his daughter Kamari is 7 years old, and his sons, Montavious Jr., and Anthony are 4 and 1.
Taylor feels his biggest achievement at Georgia College was not becoming overwhelmed, while getting his master’s and working full time. Balancing work, school and family was tricky, but he did it without going below a B or having to take any course twice.
Taylor served five years in the Marine Corps as a legal administrator at Camp Johnson, a satellite base for Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina. He handled legal proceedings for the base, in particular Non-Judicial Punishments (NJPs) which are like criminal trials but without juries. Taylor coordinated and managed cases for the commanding officer, transcribed hearings and made sure punishments were carried out properly.
While working on his master’s, Taylor also worked as a veteran’s disability consultant. He helped vets get higher disability ratings for injuries suffered on active duty. In his new job, Taylor will be an officer for the Georgia Department of Community Supervision.
He wanted a master’s to build upon his undergraduate degree in criminal justice from Middle Georgia State University.
“I knew I was enrolling right back into school,” Taylor said, “so I instantly searched for the best schools in Georgia for graduate programs in my study and applied for multiple schools to see what options I held.”
“Georgia College just made the process much easier than other schools,” he said. “Georgia College made the process easy and smooth, even with incorporating my veterans benefits to pay for school.”
During the online master’s, Taylor was able to work at his own pace. Assignments weren’t “jammed up on top of each other.” He had time to thoroughly grasp each concept before moving on.
The professors were also easy to work with and ready to assist.
Each “had their own spark.” But Taylor’s favorite faculty were associate professor Dr. Sara Doude and assistant professor Adam Lamparello.
“Dr. Doude was one of the most down-to-earth professors, who had no problem helping a student out in need and always made herself available without any judgement or idea of ‘Oh, this student should know this’ attitude,” Taylor said.
“Professor Lamparello was great at challenging your thinking process and getting his students out of their personal mindsets and thinking about the bigger picture.”
Lamparello helped Taylor see that “just because you may feel something is wrong does not mean that it is wrong, and if something is wrong, how could it be made right without making someone else’s right a wrong.”
In one project, Taylor was asked to create a hypothetical research assignment. He used academic resource and real data to analyze and examine the relationship between law enforcement agencies and the Black community.
Results revealed animosity between the two sides, mostly due to each side pointing the finger at the other for blame.
“I see good validation points from both sides,” he said, “but concluded the relationship is in its current state due to the Black community being victims of bias police tactics that are used to disproportionately target them.”
“The primary element I learned about criminal justice, that stood out to me, is that it’s two-sided and requires the cooperation of the community and the criminal justice system to function properly,” Taylor said. “One side cannot stand on its own, because it will tip the balance of the criminal justice system and cause it to fail.”
Being at Georgia College also helped Taylor see “the bigger picture in life.” Getting his master’s taught him to look beyond himself and personal feelings, assess other people’s views and find ground for compromise.
He might “dabble” in law in the future. But, for now, Taylor wants to get his Ph.D. and start his own security/investigation company with the hope of reshaping a positive relationship between law enforcement and the community.
His advice for anyone hesitant about pursuing a higher education degree is this: