Juveniles get a close look at what they could face as adult criminals

February 5, 2015
Judge Monton-1

27th Circuit Court Judge Anthony Monton addresses a group of juvenile offenders after they watched several adult criminals get sentenced.

By Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.

HART — A group of juvenile offenders recently received a valuable lesson as they watched adult criminals get sentenced in 27th Circuit Court; heard remarks from Judge Anthony Monton afterwards; and toured the county jail.

The juveniles sat in the front row of the courtroom and listened intently to the judge and asked him questions that they had prepared in advance.

“Your juvenile record is considered when you’re an adult,” Monton told the teens. “It’s a black mark.

“If you do something wrong, it has consequences not only for yourself but for your families too.”

Monton said it costs $32,000 a year to house an inmate in a Michigan prison, and the prison system accounts for 20 percent of the state budget. The judge said there are currently 45,000 convicts housed in the state prison system.

Monton has been the 27th Circuit court judge for 27 years and was the Oceana County prosecutor for eight years prior to taking the bench. The 27th Circuit includes both Oceana and Newaygo counties. He estimated that there are approximately 140 felony convictions in Oceana County each year and 400 in Newaygo County.

Criminal court sentences have a three-part purpose — to punish, deter and rehabilitate, he told the juveniles.

“Bad things happen to everyone,” he said. “Some people have more bad things happen to them than others. How you react when bad things happen is most important.”

The judge said that the most common thread he has observed among criminals during his decades on the bench is that they have not graduated from high school. He said that many have drug and alcohol problems as well. He advised the juveniles — a few of whom were in trouble for truancy — to stay in school and avoid drugs and alcohol.

“This is something you can correct,” he told the kids. “I don’t think anyone of you want that lifestyle, and I don’t want it for you either.”