Cornwall judge helps youth carve career path

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

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CORNWALL – A Cornwall judge is giving a local teen a chance to get on the right career path after running afoul of the law.

The 16-year-old boy, who can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, pleaded guilty in late October to failing to obey probation orders to obey a curfew and attend school.

The teen expressed frustration with the current system at Laurencrest Youth Services. “It’s now about not wanting to go to school. I don’t find a point of it. I go for one class and I’m done. If they were going to give me the four full classes…then I’d actually put the effort into going to school but I don’t see the point of going to school doing one lesson and then leaving.”

The judge suggested he could have asked them for extra homework.

Kinsella: “And…let me ask you this. What do you want to do when you’re done?”

Youth: “I don’t know.”

Kinsella: “I don’t know either. But there’s virtually nothing in today’s work that you can do without a high school diploma.”

The youth’s lawyer, Frank Horn, said his client was having problems at the school he was going to because of some family history which lead to him leaving the school. He then ended up in the educational program at Laurencrest.

“He has be going to that since the beginning of September. He’s been doing very well,”at his courses in grade 10 geography and “last year’s math.” The judge would later undercover through questioning that the youth is only going about “50 per cent of the time” to a one hour and 45 minute daily class.

“You understand that from the court’s perspective, doing well means going to school. Not just half the time, but most of the time. That’s what the law requires,” Judge Deborah Kinsella said.

But instead of coming down hard with the law, Judge Kinsella has given the teen some “homework” to do some research on his future career.

She also suggested to the youth to have Laurencrest give him additional work and to not get frustrated, which would “put you in a better position.”

Instead of putting the youth on probation, Kinsella put the case over to February – around the start of second semester – to allow the teen to do that homework. “That homework would be five hours of volunteer work. It doesn’t have to be anything formal. Then we’ll know what your schedule’s like (in February) and then I can hear about what kind of conditions I may be able to fashion that will help you out,” Kinsella said in a warm tone.

“You’re not going to face anything worse. I just want to give you a chance to see if we can figure out a system that works for you within the education system,” she said.

Both the defence at the prosecution agreed with the plan.

“The other thing I’d like you to think about doing, see if you can do some work at home. Even if it’s not school mandated, anything cross your head about what you want to do? Tattoo artist, computer development, any of those things? Why don’t you do a little bit of research about what you would need to do to do that,” Kinsella inquired.

“It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. I’m not expected you to write me an essay. Just come back and tell me. Because then if we know what you want to do, then we have a better idea of what tools I can use to help you get there.”