Judge Price lays down the law| [8/11/06]

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 11, 2006

Youth Court Judge Johnny Price offered a message to students in the Vicksburg Warren School District: Misbehave and you’ll end up in court – and you won’t like it.

Price spent Thursday talking to about 1,550 students in the two junior highs and 2,000 at the high schools, saying his message was simple.

&#8220This is an educational facility where everyone here is entitled to an education,” Price said at Vicksburg Junior High School. &#8220The few of you who decide to commit delinquent acts are not going to interrupt education for everyone else.”

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Youth Court hears matters involving those under age 18 and their parents, including cases of alleged delinquency, abuse and neglect.

For the past three years, Price has worked closely with school district Superintendent James Price to combat delinquency in the schools by improving coordination and communication among school administrators, attendance officers, court personnel and other providers of social services for children of school age. The idea has been for students not to get lost in a shuffle of paperwork and to make sure academic work continues, even for youths held in the county’s detention center.

Judge Price reviewed with students the four categories of offenses that will cause them to be taken directly to Youth Court – weapons, drugs, fights and aggression toward any adult on campus.

&#8220If you commit one of these four acts, you will be immediately taken to the Warren County youth detention facility for a minimum of 48 hours,” he said.

The last school year ended in May with a rash of bomb threats, with students accused in several. Price emphasized the few were not going to distract the many.

&#8220In some respects, it’s disgraceful for me to even have to mention this to you, but from time to time things happen, so maybe this will head it off,” Price said.

The four categories should be self-explanatory for students, he said.

&#8220I’m not asking you to go jump off the Mississippi River bridge,” the judge said. &#8220I’m asking you to do what should be common sense, and everyone here understands that but three or four of you. Those three or four are the ones who are going to test the system.”

&#8220If one fool like last year calls in a bomb threat, that makes the front page of The Vicksburg Post, the 5 o’clock news in Jackson and it makes the entire school district look sorry,” he said.

&#8220I’m just warning y’all. You know what I’m talking about,” he said. &#8220I just don’t want to see any of y’all in Youth Court this year.”

All records and proceedings of the court are confidential except in cases where youngsters are convicted on criminal charges in a separate court for adults and the judge of that court requests to review them before deciding on a sentence.