Community service or jail time?
That was the option given to some first time lawbreakers in a Hinds County Circuit Court. For most, it was an easy choice.
Thursday many of the violators showed up at Stewpot Community kitchen to make amends.
Each of them went before Judge Jeff Weill and pled guilty to their crime.
"The range of crimes basically embezzlement stealing a lawnmower some minor drug possession and that sort of thing. We don't do this with violent or repeat offenders but always with non-violent first offenders," said the Judge.
The men and women received a mandatory sentence and probation. They had to get out in the community and serve those in need at Stewpot.
"Any day I would rather be here than spending a day in jail 30 for 30. Instead of 30 days in jail I would rather spend those 30 days here giving back and helping. I have no problem with that," one unidentified first-offender said.
"Kids don't want to go to jail and society doesn't want to pay to put non-violent first offenders in jail so they are really happy about it,." according to the Judge.
Thursday Weill, his staff, and bailiffs also volunteered at Stewpot.
The idea is to convey a valuable message of what a crime free life offers.
"So many of these young people don't have mentors and they need to see successful people in the community that are living right and doing right giving back to the community. I want them to learn that lesson," said the Judge.
The judge, the bailiff and his staff sat down with the violators for a one on one, pressing the point that there is more to life and that crime does not pay.
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