Choices In Friends


In my county we implemented what we call Peer Courts, which submit real juvenile delinquency cases to local high school jurors. The jurors question the subject and also his or her parents about the offense and the overall situation, retire to deliberate, and then recommend a sentence to a real judge who then imposes it. (Often the judges make some modifications, because frequently these jurors can be pretty tough.) But the beauty of this program is that, if the subject completes the imposed sentence within the next four months, the underlying charges are then dismissed and the subject will have no criminal record (this is what we call a “diversion” program).

When I preside over these sessions I frequently ask the subjects to close their eyes and think of three of young people that they “hang out” with. Then, once they have those three in mind, I ask them if they believe that ten years from now their associates will be successful in their lives. Most often the answer is no. Of course, the underlying message is that the odds are good that if their associates do things like ditching school, smoking marijuana and being disrespectful of their teachers and parents, this will strongly contribute to their lack of success. But, conversely, young people who are serious students, respectful of others and maximize their opportunities will probably be a success. And it is almost certain that the subjects will turn out the same way – one way or the other. So we have the Liberty of choice of our friends, but we will be held accountable for the choices we make. Then I finish this thought by looking the subjects in the eye and saying: “You show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future. You might want to adjust accordingly.” And I am proud to say that, over the years, this approach has been effective. (Try this approach with your children, or grandchildren. I think you will like the results.)

** Here is an additional thought that holds true in our family:
“I work hard so my dog can have a better life.”

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President