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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Books to Educate Youth Offenders

After five teenagers defaced a historic black schoolhouse in Virginia with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti last September, Judge Avelina Jacob handed down an unusual sentence:  that they read one book each month for the next 12 months and write a report about it.

The graffiti sprayed on the schoolhouse included swastikas, sexual images and the phrases “brown power” and “white power.”

“It became very apparent to us as we reviewed the facts, and their statements to detectives, that these kids truly did not appreciate the significance or the meaning of what they were drawing on the building," said Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Plowman.  "Because of this, we are seizing the opportunity to treat this as an educational experience for these young men so they may better appreciate the significance of their actions and the impact this type of behavior has on communities and has had throughout history" (

The books were chosen based on their literary significance and/or their subject matter content surrounding race, religion and discrimination.  See the entire list from which the students can choose their books: 

This story came to my attention though this article in The New York Times: