Among my 35 years of public service — in Maine’s three branches of government — I was a juvenile court judge (among other cases) for 15 years. On April 7, the Kennebec Journal reported that a Richmond student “brought a loaded handgun to school Tuesday” (“Son of former Richmond police chief told student with loaded gun to tell the teacher“). My intuition came to attention!

Additionally, the piece stated: “To protect the privacy rights of those protected, we cannot provide any more detail, the post said, adding support will be given to those close to the situation.” Richmond police also said, “there were no threats made toward anyone at the school and everyone was safe.”

Given the dastardly cases, here and there, of schoolchildren murdered at their desks, educating all of us (young and old) of the horrors created, how is it possible this local situation was described as: “everyone was safe?” The gun was loaded! In a school of pupils at desks! Arguably, authorities needed to have had the trigger activated, to consider things unsafe!

The instant matter reminded me of the juvenile case I had, in which a 16-year-old stole a truck, broke into camps, stole property that included a firearm and ammunition. He was brought to court on a Friday, when I had 20 minutes left to work; a matter pending at home. I read the charges. No time left to appoint an attorney and hold a hearing. I continued the case to Monday. My options were to send him home with mother, or to the youth facility. I chose the latter, given the firearm and ammo involved, and the fact he lived with mother when it happened. That case cost me a third judicial term.

Now a days, too much juvenile crime equals adult crime re: degree of violence. When I was a juvenile, now 89, I hesitated to enter school armed with a spitball.


John Benoit


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