12-Year-Old Ordered To ‘Get A Job’ By Massachusetts Appeals Court

Easthampton, MA – The young boy, identified in court as “Avram,” was 11-years old when he was caught tagging (graffiti) a neighbor’s newly-sided garage with red spray paint. He was charged with juvenile delinquency and ordered to remit restitution to his neighbors within one year’s time. Avram, now 12, returned to face Juvenile Court Judge James G. Collins when he failed to repay a single penny for damages.

The judge extended the boy’s probation to four years and ordered him to get a job in order to repay the $1,000 overdue. However, Avram’s defense attorney, Craig Bartolomei, says the order is in direct violation of the juvenile labor laws. The state child labor laws limit what minors are allowed to do in regards of employment. “Where does a 12-year-old find work to pay this off? It’s not going to happen,” reports The Boston Globe.

A three-judge appeals panel has since agreed to uphold the initial sentencing, suggesting the boy find work outside his home raking leaves, shoveling snow, babysitting, mowing lawns, or recycling. State law permits children as young as nine to deliver papers. The panel reinforced that the probation was suitable, asserting:

“The judge properly sought to teach the juvenile one of life’s primary lessons: he is responsible for the actions he takes. Such an order not only provided an opportunity to build the juvenile’s character and integrity, but also to promote his life as a law-abiding citizen. The judge’s order had the added benefit of instilling in the juvenile the important values of respect for others (as well as their property) and a basic understanding of the value of work.”

District Attorney David E. Sullivan, shares the opinion of the court in making the right call, not only in the case of the Easthampton tagging victims but also for the thousands of people who sustain property damage at the hands of mischievous, undisciplined juveniles.

Most vandals don’t consider the expense the victim endures when having to repair or replace items that have been damaged or stolen. If covered by insurance, the owner often has to pay an expensive deductible and face rate hikes. Other times, the deductible and the damage end up being about the same, forcing the person to pay for repairs or replacement completely out of pocket.

In this case, the vandalized neighbors, Elaine Dudkiewicz and her husband, managed to repair some of the damage themselves and say the youth owes about $300. But they agree the ruling seems more than fair, insisting Avram take responsibility for his actions.

Craig Bartolomei is urging his client to appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court.

Do you think it is unsuitable for the judge(s) to insist the child get a job? Do you think current laws are relaxed when it comes to vandalism and property damage? People have been using public shaming as a way of deterring petty crimes like vandalism. Do you feel that would have worked in this case in lieu of fining the boy?

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