Tuesday 1 February 2011

Positive feedback about the local juvenile justice program

Following is an e-mail from a reader regarding my Saturday column about a young woman, Diana Le, who turned her life around after finding herself in juvenile detention and in shackles and handcuffs in an Olmsted County District Courtroom.
Before I get to that, I need to point out an error in the column. A copy editor who wrote the headline for that column and highlighted a quote from her for emphasis incorrectly assumed that Diana had been in a gang, thus the headline "Woman leaves gang life behind," and the pull quote identifying her as a "former gang member."
Diana made it clear to me, and I repeated this information in the news story that included her story, that she was never a member of a gang. She hung around with known gang members and associated with others who she said were bad influences. But she was never actually in a gang.
Diana gives Dan DeCook, her probation officer, much of the credit for helping her turn her life around. DeCook also gets credit from the woman whose e-mail is included below. She's the mother of a young person who ended up in the local juvenile justice system. (She approved my sharing her e-mail on this blog.)
Hi Greg, I am an avid reader of yours but have never responded to a piece until now.  In response to "Woman leaves gang life behind, pushes forward".  My daughter is 17 and has also recently had some troubles with the law.  She is not involved with any gangs but had gotten into the drinking and drug scene despite my best efforts to keep a tight hold on her.  She was arrested a month ago for hit and run and DUI.  She spent a couple nights in detox and then 1 night at Many Rivers Juvenile Detention Center.  For her first appearance in court she was also handcuffed and shackled.  Since that day she has been under house arrest with an alcohol monitor.  During this whole process there have been so many wonderful people that have offered to help, given advice or just a shoulder to cry on.  She also has Dan DeCook for a probation officer.  At first she didn't really like him, he is really upfront about everything.  I believe his exact words were"Don't f$#@ with me and I won't f$#% with you".  After that she really started listening to him and is starting to get her life turned around.  Then there was the Dee at Many Rivers.  She stood and talked with me for about 20 minutes after I visited my daughter about where we go from here.  She offered a lot of good advice and told me that she also works at detox and if I ever wanted to talk again I could get ahold of her there.  The phrase "it takes a village" has taken on new meaning for me this last month.  From complete strangers, family members, co workers, students and teachers at her school, and friends we are supporting and encouraging her to become the best person she can.  As of today she has 26 days sober and is attending out patient treatment.  Thank you for your article letting everyone know that "bad" kids don't always come from "bad" families and that there is hope for them.

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