Friday, December 14, 2001
Supervising Judge Demystifies Juvenile Court for Middle School Children
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Being arrested for a crime as a juvenile is serious business that could result in time spent in a correctional camp or juvenile hall far, far away from friends and families, a Los Angeles juvenile court judge told Montebello middle school students yesterday.
Supervising Judge Philip K. Mautino, of the Los Padrinos Juvenile Court, spoke to about 60 seventh and eight graders and several teachers and administrators at Montebello Intermediate School.
“The purpose is to lower the veil of mystery surrounding the juvenile courts,” Mautino said, “to let children know they will be responsible and let the public know that its money is being well-spent.”
Since all matters of the juvenile court are confidential, most people do not understand the laws and procedures, Mautino said.
In the program, started by Mautino when he became supervising judge of the Los Padrinos Juvenile Court earlier this year, local judges, prosecutors and public defenders tell parents and school officials the statistics of the juvenile courts and describe to students the actual procedures and consequences that can result from criminal activity.
Each year Los Angeles County juvenile courts handle 22,000 delinquency cases—those where the children have done something wrong—and 53,000 dependency cases—those where the children are deemed to live in unsuitable homes.
Seventy-four percent of delinquent kids found guilty in the Los Angeles County juvenile courts are never arrested as youthful offenders again, Mautino said.
Juvenile court differs from criminal court in that there is no bail, there is a trial by judge and not jury, and the sentencing is based on rehabilitation and not punishment, Mautino said.
The Los Angeles County Juvenile Department has 22 forestry camps for the placement of youth committing criminal crimes, as well as placement home programs for drug counseling and mental health problems. The court also handles youth that need a safe residence.
Mautino hammered home the message that if kids broke the law or failed to do well in school, not only might they end up in a probation camps or juvenile hall, they might end up short-changing themselves in life.
“I want to see all of you be all that you can be,” said Mautino. “Being an adult means more than being a certain age. It means being able to take care of and handle yourself. If you get educated, get a job, you can buy whatever you want. But you can only buy more things than anybody if you work for it.
“Your job right now is school.”
He described doing drugs as “putting poison in your body” and warned the children that even if they didn’t commit crimes, just being with someone who decided to tag a building or steal a drink from the mall could mean trouble.
“Adults give up friends that get you in trouble,” said Mautino. “If you are with friends who commit crimes, you suffer their fate.”
Principal Art Revueltas praised the judge’s lecture.
“We can say the same thing to the kids, but it does not have the impact that a police officer or judge can have,” Revueltas said.
Lisa Marie Reyes, a Montebello police officer who acts as the school’s resource officer on Thursdays and Fridays, said the judge’s visit was part of the larger focus of bridging the gap between the police and the children and providing positive role models for children.
Mautino said he hopes for 200 speaking engagements in the next year, covering all the schools and service clubs in the 18 cities and 16 school districts in the areas handled by the Los Padrinos Juvenile Court.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company