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WATCH: Georgia judge brings room of troubled youth to tears with "naked truth"

Adam Lee Nemann
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Trial and Defense Attorney, Adjunct Professor of Law at Capital University, founder of Nemann Law Offices

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4/6/2016
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Holding a large, white body bag in her hands, a judge stood in front of a room full of at-risk youth and told them they have two options.

"The way you're going, you will go to jail -- or you will get up in this body bag," Bibb County Superior Court Judge Verda Colvin told a crowd of more than a dozen.

Stunned, the children -- ages 9 to 17 -- stared back at the judge without a word.

"What do you want to do?" Colvin asked the kids, who were a part of the Bibb County Sheriff's office's "Consider the Consequences" program, where children learn what life is like behind bars for a day.

Turning her attention to a group of girls sitting in the front row, Colvin lectured the three young ladies on living up to the stereotypes.

"Whether anyone has ever told you before, you're special, you're uniquely made," she said. "Stop acting like you're trash."

As the judge begged the girls to care about their futures, one young woman burst into tears.

"Be somebody; anybody can be nothing," Colvin said. "It doesn't take anything to be nothing. Be something."

The girls respond in unison, "Yes, ma'am."

Colvin says she doesn't ever expect to see the young girls back in her courtroom ever again.

Lt. Ellis Sinclair says this isn't the first time the judge has brought the room to tears, himself included.

"Tears roll out of my eyes; she hits it home," Sinclair told CBS News. "The speech is pretty firm. She's telling the naked truth when she speaks to these young people."

Under the sheriffs office's monthly program, children undergo various exercises over a period of eight hours. From dressing in jumpsuits to talking to inmates, the participants leave the program with a different outlook on life.

"They regret what they've done and realize they've made a terrible, terrible mistake," Sinclair says.

Following in the footsteps of others who get locked up, the kids go to court in the morning. So, Judge Colvin is the first person they see.

She's been giving speeches every month since the program started in May 2015, Sinclair says.

"We want to let them know there's still hope for them," Sinclair said. "It's not only their parents; there are other people who care for them as well."

Colvin seems to agree.

Last week, the judge ended her speech, which has since gone viral with nearly 5,000 shares, with reassurance.

"When I see you all hurting, it makes me hurt, too," she said. "I don't even know you all personally -- but I love each and every one of you."



Category: Juvenile Defense


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