April 24, 2002
Hampton, New Brunswick, Canada
11am. Chuck brought me to youth court to see what the kids are like and how the system works.
"What grade have you completed so far?" Judge Jefferys, asked the girl standing before her who broke probation by missing six days of school in two months.
"Ten, your honor," the girl answered.
"They are not exactly going to be crying for you. In this day and age, with a grade ten education, you are going to be doing what other people tell you for the rest of you life. It is not going to effect my life if you are working at McDonald's the rest of yours." The girl got another 6 months probation and 25hrs community service. The judge sent her away saying, "I don't care... I'll get my burgers from you!"
"So, you're another one who will be flipping burgers. But you wont get a job because you can't get a resume in...!" The judge welcomes the next case--a 17 year old boy kicked out of school, and without work. "Sounds like you're just hangin' around havin' a good ol' time doin' what you want to do."
His parents are tired of him coming and going as he pleases, so they want the judge to deal with him.
"I can give you the reins, and I don't have a problem with that," said the judge, "but it's gonna tie you down."
"He's not disrespectful in anyway, not even to his teachers," returned his father. "He just doesn't want to go to school or respect the rules of the house."
"Basically you are just a useless tit right now!" judge Jefferys told the boy. "If it was up to me I'd put the boot to you and you'd be out!" He got one year probation and house arrest.
"I'm not a big history person myself, but unfortunately it's something they require you to have," said the judge to the next girl, because she is failing history class. "If you're just watching TV, pick up the book and force yourself to study."
"She does read a lot your honor, but just not history," returned her mother in defense.
"The days you're missing... are they legitimate?"
"Yes, your honor," answered the girl, who explained that she was sick, but still she got another six months probation.
The old jail next door was turned into a library-- how ironic. If these kids don't go to school... they go to jail. They don't want to be in school... so it might as well be jail. They have homework, and probation forces them to be in their house by 9pm. A lot of them are in group homes, or their parents are whacked. Life sucks. They need to go on a trip and have some good clean fun. Maybe then they might find something to care about, something they can do passionately, something worth living for.
1pm. "There's a million success stories..." said David, the lawyer on the left eating his smoked meat sandwich, "...and each one is a matter of the kid saying 'I don't care if my father is a drunk and my mother is a hooker; I'm gonna put everything behind me and just be me!"
"Often it's the peer group that has the most influence on them," Jerry added.