Javan Rivera


MY BLOG: Enlightening the law

What is law and justice really?

I’ve written on a variety of subjects in the past, from the opening of new art exhibits, to after-school programs on Salt Lake City’s West side. However, Voices of Utah represents my first foray into the realm of law and justice.

It’s been an enlightening experience.

Suffice to say that before these stories, I hadn’t taken any time to really look at the American justice system. It was always just there; that big system that’s designed to keep our streets safe and our citizens happy.

But what about the people who make that system run? The people it serves? The people it protects?

The people.

That’s what it all really comes down to when you start digging. It’s much more personal and individually engaging than I think most people realize. Certainly more so than I had ever imagined.

When the words law and justice are mentioned, most people tend to think about silent courtrooms and stone-faced judges.

But what about the homeless man who is huddled in the cold? His mind is lost to a combination of mental illness and self-medication. The crimes he commits usually aren’t of the violent variety, but rather misdemeanors that are a side effect of his mental illness.

What about the passionate men and women who stand up for these people? People like Salt Lake City DA Sim Gill, who helped to pioneer the mental illness court in Salt Lake City. People like him work every day to, not only keep the truly dangerous criminals off the street, but also to help those severely in need of their aid.

What about the police officers who not only choose to put their lives on the line in the name of public safety, but attempt to do so in a manner that always puts the non-violent approach ahead of their own well-being? People like Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank, whose peaceful approach to the Occupy Salt Lake Movement gained him nods of professional appreciation from around the nation.

Make no mistake. The people who serve in Utah’s justice system are professional to the bone. That being said, Law and justice isn’t some dispassionate, detached part of our society. It is made up of men and women who actively seek to make our city and our nation a better place.

Much of what I’ve discovered as part of my experience with Voices of Utah, revolves around the law and justice writing I’ve done. While I can easily say I’m pretty comfortable branching out to cover whatever catches my interest, law and justice is an area I never imagined I would be covering–outside of the crime reporting it seems most everyone ends up doing when they try and break into the field.

This portion of my experience has been both eye opening and good for me. It’s taught me that, no matter what you’re covering, there are always interesting people to meet, new nuggets of truth to be unearthed, and above all else, new stories to be told.


Writing is more than just a career path to me—it’s my passion. I once had a friend give me some very sage advice.

“If you want to be a writer, then write. And when you think you’re done. When you think you can’t possibly write any more. Then keep on writing. Write until your fingers ache, until your mind has gone numb from the sheer amount of words that pour forth from your well of creativity. Then, and only then, will you be more than a writer. You’ll be a crafter of words.”

That’s advice I’ve taken to heart and genuinely tried to put into practice over the years. As a child, and into my adulthood I’ve always been an active reader and writer. It’s a part of who I am, and more than anything, it’s a part of who I want to be.

Having grown up the son of home missionaries, I traveled across the United States numerous times as a child. By the age of 12 I had likely traveled more miles than the majority of people would in their entire lifetimes. I honestly believe those experiences helped to mold me into the person I am today.

I’m currently in the latter half of my junior year at the University of Utah. Majoring in mass communication with an emphasis in journalism was a no-brainer for me. As someone who has always pursued literature and word crafting as a hobby, I can’t imagine a greater career than being able to convey the stories of others on a daily basis.

My time at the University of Utah has allowed me to pursue numerous journalistic endeavors. From writing for my school paper to getting my first article published in a local paper, it’s been a journey in learning and excitement.

At 20, I look to my future in anticipation. Opportunities such as Voices of Utah are wonderful due to the fact that they give me a chance to not only practice my greatest obsession, but also an opportunity to cultivate that passion into something I can use as a career.

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