Jamon Young, age 16, Grade 11, Frederick Douglass High School
Jamon Young is a regular volunteer at MYLaw’s Baltimore City Teen Court, held every other Thursday night at the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center. Baltimore City Teen Court is an alternative for youth who would otherwise end up in the juvenile justice system. Jamon volunteers to sit on the jury of Teen Court dispositional hearings. As a youth juror, Jamon, along with his peer jurors, listen to the respondent’s side of the story to better understand what happened during the incident with the police and why the respondent got into trouble with the law. These young jurors take very seriously every piece of information the respondent shares before considering appropriate sanctions.
I asked Jamon why he continues to return to Teen Court as a juror volunteer. Jamon explained, “I like the process. I like the stories I hear. I think about what they [the respondents] need so they won’t get in trouble again or don’t get into something more serious.” Jamon’s favorite sanction to assign is the 5/10/15 Year Life Plan, which a respondent creates to think about how to achieve future successes. Jamon thinks it helps the respondent stay on track and stay out of trouble. I inquired if Jamon has a 5/10/15 Year Life Plan of his own. Jamon shared that right now he likes being a student at Douglass High School. He spends downtime in the school weight room working out. He plans to play football next season for Douglass High School and then participate as a track member following football season. In five years, Jamon plans to be at college for engineering and technology and after that, to enlist in the military.
Volunteer youth, like Jamon, play an important role in helping their peers navigate better paths towards the future. At MYLaw we seek to “build the next generation of civic-minded citizens.” So, I like to ask youth to think about, if they were President of the United States, what would they say to our great citizenry? I posed this question to Jamon, who took a second to think about the question and then answered, “If I were President, I would tell everyone we need to stop killing each other.” Thank you, Jamon. Well said.