Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

Local news

March 14, 2009

Judge tries to keep kids out of court

CORDELE – “Sometimes I want to come off the bench, give a kid a hug and tell him, ‘it’s going to be all right,’” says newly appointed Cordele Judicial Circuit Juvenile Court Judge Kristen Pack.

Because of the problems that too many kids in the four counties of the circuit have to face, Pack spends a lot of time trying to find the help that will keep them out of her courtroom.

The social aspect of her job consumes much of her time as she works closely with all school systems and community clubs. “When a child’s parents can’t provide him with the things he thinks he needs, he finds his own way to get it, and that often involves stealing,” Pack says.

There are children in the four counties of the judicial circuit who literally don’t know where they are going to sleep tonight, Pack says. Some are hungry, but perhaps the saddest thing they are lacking is hope.

Pack says, “I have told kids, ‘your mama may not expect you to do better; your teachers may not expect you to do better, but I expect you to be a better person.’”

Often their parents are struggling just to live day to day, and there’s no time for nurturing, Pack says. “They are overwhelmed, and they don’t do anything to inspire initiative in their children.”

That’s when someone else has to step up to the plate and help them. Governmental agencies do that to a certain extent, Pack says, “but sadly when funds have to be cut, programs that help children usually are the first ones to take a hit.”

That’s when responsibility for helping these children falls back on community volunteers in civic organizations, churches, etc. “We’re asking people who already are doing all they can do to do even more,” Pack says.

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