Skip to Main Content

Here Comes The Judge

Maryland Correctional Officer Fanesha Jones-Bey stood on the sidewalk outside the former Baltimore City Detention Center two years ago when she spoke with department Secretary Stephen T. Moyer.

Jones-Bey told Moyer she was about 50 college credits shy of getting a criminal justice degree.

“He was like ‘What are you waiting for? Go back to school,’” Jones-Bey said. “I listened to him and went back.”

Now, after obtaining a criminal justice degree from Coppin State University, the 32-year-old Baltimore native is about to enter law school at the University of Baltimore thanks to a program that will pay her way.

The 10-year correctional officer veteran who toiled through night school while working a trying day job managing criminal detainees is one of eight people selected for the Fannie Angelos Program for Academic Excellence to increase diversity in the legal profession.

Jones-Bey earned a perfect 4.0 Grade Point Average at Coppin and wowed University of Baltimore program administrators.

“We really thought she had strong character,” said Lenora Giles, coordinator of the Fannie Angelos program. “We measure grit and we have a grit question on the application. We asked applicants to tell a story of when they showed grit and she did very well.”

Jones-Bey, who now helps manage the prison auto fleet, credited her correctional officer experience as critical to her development after being assigned to the Baltimore jail when graduating the academy.

“It was trying and a growing experience,” she said. “It’s all about the character within you. They can’t teach you that at the academy.”

Jones-Bey entered corrections on a lark. A friend was taking the officer test and asked Jones-Bey to come along. She passed and her friend didn’t.

“I never even thought about jails,” she said.

After working with detainees, Jones-Bey decided she wants to be a judge, she said.

“People really need help,” she said. “If I can be an agent of change, I can help them.”

She served as the Vice President of the Criminal Justice Honor Society at Coppin and is grateful for the new opportunity.

“It will definitely broaden my horizons,” she said. “It gives me more purpose.”