20 Under 40 Q&A: Amy E. LukasavitzSixth Judicial District Assistant Public Defender
Get to know Amy E. Lukasavitz
Occupation: Sixth Judicial District Assistant Public Defender.
What do you actually do? I represent clients who are unable to afford legal counsel.
Years in your job: 2
Education: Graduate of Nashwauk-Keewatin High School, bachelor of fine arts degree in theater from the University of Minnesota Duluth; juris doctor degree from Hamline University School of Law.
Family: I have been married for 12 years and have three happy, healthy boys, ages 8, 7 and 3.
Community involvement: Board member for the Volunteer Attorney Program, Community Sentencing Circle member, National Association of Drug Court Professionals member and member of the Nashwauk American Legion Auxiliary.
What brought you to the Twin Ports?
I have lived in Duluth since 1990, only leaving briefly to live in Florida for two years and to complete law school. UMD brought me to Duluth from the Iron Range.
What do you like to do during your free time?
I love taking photos, especially of my children, reading, writing and digital scrapbooking.
Describe your favorite place in the Twin Ports.
Brighton Beach. I have loved Brighton Beach since college and every year for the past eight years, I have taken my sons down to Brighton Beach around the Fourth of July to take pictures and throw rocks. It is a beautiful and very special place to my family.
How can the Northland retain younger people?
Offer higher-paying jobs, and the business community should do more active recruiting in the local colleges to keep those people in the area.
Who or what has made the biggest impact on your life?
There have been many great teachers and amazing experiences in my life. I have been very blessed. One of those teachers is my oldest son. He was born seven weeks premature and was 2 pounds 13 ounces. He spent lots of time in the NICU fighting and charming people with his personality and smile. He is now happy and healthy and still charming people with his smile. I learned a lot about myself, my capacity to love and the true lesson that burdens are made for the shoulders that can carry them.
What are you most passionate about?
The ability of the human spirit to be changed and reformed. In my work as the coordinator of the felony DWI court in St. Louis County and my Restorative Justice work, I have been honored and humbled to see true healing and redemption. It is a very empowering experience when you can find the key that can help someone find that path when society and traditional laws and jurisprudence tell you they should be locked away.
How have social and business networking sites changed your life?
Facebook helps me stay connected to family and friends. It is like my personal newspaper filled with stories and pictures of all the people I care about.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Personally, being a mom. Professionally, being a part of implementing the felony DWI court in St. Louis County. As the first coordinator, I had the honor and privilege to work with an amazing multi-disciplined team dedicated to helping individuals who were suffering, hold them accountable and by doing so providing true reformation. When I see an old client who tells me they are still sober, I take so much pride and motivation in that. Therapeutic jurisprudence at its best assists people by giving them the tools to make changes that are sustainable. The felony DWI court does that and I am so proud to have played a small part in its creation.
What goals have you set for the next 5-10 years?
I would really like to work within the justice system and community to develop a better and more restorative way to deal with repeat juvenile offenders. These are young kids and I believe there is a more effective way to provide them with the structure and tools they need to be successful teenagers and functional and productive adults and to get them out of the revolving door of institutional settings and lock up.
Comments: Restorative Justice or therapeutic jurisprudence gives a voice to everyone involved in a crime and in the justice system. You cannot know a person until you know their story. Crime or deviant behavior is often just a symptom of a much bigger disease. A restorative approach to dealing with the symptoms also is able to treat the disease. Having the ability and the tools to take a holistic approach to a person’s crime helps keep the individual accountable in a respectful and thoughtful way, provides victims with closure, a voice and healing and allows the justice system to see people, all people, as individuals and not just file numbers. One of the true joys of my job is to be able to help people be able to accomplish real change in their lives and to hear and become a part of their story.