Los Lunas Municipal Judge Jeff Aragon has come up with a great idea for making young people think about what they’ve done when convicted of a traffic or shoplifting offense. He’s asking them to write essays about what they’ve done wrong, what they learned from it and how they intend not to repeat the mistake.
As the judge pointed out, writing an essay will be more meaningful than having their parents bail them out by paying their fine. It’s when we have to do a bit of work ourselves that we truly appreciate the gravity of an error.
From the first couple of essays, it seems as though the students learned their lessons. “My car is my life, and, without my car, I would have no way to do anything of entertainment,” one wrote. “Driving is a privilege, and that can be taken away faster than I could press the accelerator pedal.”
That’s a lesson that many young drivers need to understand. Driving is a privilege and not a right. If you mess up too often, that privilege can be taken away from you.
The judge says, so far, students have responded well. “This has been rewarding for me, too,” he said. “Just to see the well-written essays and to read the truthfulness behind them gives me hope.”
It’s a good start to Aragon’s tenure on the bench. We encourage him and other judges to keep thinking about unique ways to handle sentences, especially ones that will teach offenders a thing or two.