Saving Juveniles

January 18, 2011
I’ve always had an eye for criminal justice and law enforcement. For years now I have dreamed to pursue a career in that field when I am older. When I gained knowledge that there was a club called “Teen Court” on campus that helps put troubled teens on the right track, I jumped on the opportunity to join like a teenage girl would over a new Coach purse.

I was always told by my dad that “kids who disobey the law starting at a young age are lost causes and a waste of time; if they start off young its just going to get worse. Thieves will turn into rapists, murderers, and beaters”. However, after becoming a member of Teen Court, I quickly found out otherwise. Our job was to act as the judges for those troubled teens.

My first case ever I was extremely shy; I tensed up as the defendant shambled slowly into the room and came before the jury. After everything that has been pounded into my brain, there were seven million things running through my head, like “is this girl going to see me around one day and beat me up?” That situation would frighten any young girl who has not been exposed to any type of crime yet.

Although I was extremely scared, once the questioning began that fear soon faded. My thoughts on that girl quickly changed. She appeared to be more afraid of us than I was of her. I could see the sweat roll down her forehead and the tears building up in her eyes. We continuously questioned the girl on her thought, goals, and dreams.

“Did you think about anybody else besides yourself when you committed this crime?”

“Well how do you think your parents, family or siblings feel knowing you stole and didn’t think you were doing anything wrong?”

“Ashamed, disappointed and embarrassed of me.”

“Is there anything else you’d like to say to the jury before they deliberate?”

“Yes, I would like to say that I am not a bad person, people do make mistakes, they regret them and do whatever they can to make up for it. You guys have really showed me that this kind of behavior is not a joke and will not be tolerated in society. Thank you for giving me a second chance; I will never do something like this again. I promise.”

She said those words to us while hot tears were streaming down her red, embarrassed face. The way she reacted to her actions really put some things into perspective for me, what I was always told about teens who commit crimes so young will never change was wrong.

I was satisfied with myself just knowing that the members of Washington High School Teen Court and the other teen courts around the state had a lot to do with the fact that a plethora of teenagers have realized stealing, fighting, and trespassing is no joke and most of them have made the choice to pay for their actions and try turning their lives around. Maybe by hanging out with a new crowd, or just thinking about how their actions will affect their lives before they make them so they don’t end up incarcerated or on the streets later in their lives. To many, Teen Court may seem like some lame little club, but when you count up the number of teens and even children it has highly helped you realize it really does make a huge difference.

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