Alex Reta, Attorney, African American School discussed on Weekend Edition Sunday

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Now an update on a story in twenty seventeen five students who sprayed racist graffiti across in historic African American school house in Virginia received an unusual punishment reading twelve books and writing about the books over the course of a year, the titles included, my angelou's autobiographical. I know why the cage bird sings TC boils, the tortilla curtain dealing with immigration and Sinophobic and L E V cells night about the horrors of the holocaust, Alex is the deputy Commonwealth attorney who came up with a sentence. And she joins me now to discuss what happened next. Thank you. My pleasure being here. Thanks for having me. We spoke when the sentence was first issued in you told me then that you wanted the teens who spray painted swastikas and lewd symbols and wrote white power on this historic African American schoolhouse to learn about race in religion. Do you think that they've learned their lesson? I sure hope so I mean, I was able to read the essay from one of the students, and what he wrote I thought was very very powerful when he talked about how even though he had been taught about Nazi symbols in school. It had never really made an impression upon him. And once he learned about it and was made to read about it. And write about it and go to the holocaust museum. It made him feel really bad and having learned about this. He was going to make sure that he would never make anybody feel this way. Again, do you think you can teach tolerance? I mean, do you think that there's a wider lesson here? Because obviously, this is a subject of great debate across America right now. I think that the only way to to teach tolerance is for people to learn about other cultures. And sometimes the only way to do that is to read about it. That was the way that I learned about those things. I mean when I first read Allen patents cry the beloved country. I knew nothing about South Africa. I didn't know anything about apartheid at the time. I remember weeping at my ignorance and at what people were going through. And so I'm hoping that that's what happened for them. Because that's what happened for me. Some people listening to this might say, that's all fine. And well having people read, but these kinds of crimes is kinds of attacks on people's identity are being treated more leniently than other types of crimes, and are these students not getting off lightly, but they weren't they were fact treated much harsher than they would have otherwise the standard disposition for a youth in our Justice system who has no prior record would be put on probation for a year like they were and to do community service and write a letter of apology and pay restitution they were not facing being put in detention into juvenile detention because this was not a crime of violence against another person. So what was imposed upon them was above and beyond? What any probation are would have had to do on a first offense charge? Like what they were facing in many ways. This was an experiment. Yes. Do you consider the experimented success in? Should it? Be replicated. I do consider it a success because they did not get in trouble. Again, the essays that they wrote at least the one that the defense attorney made available to us the student wrote that he understood so to me it worked and my hope my dream. My goal would be that. This is not an unusual disposition that causes people to write about it in the newspaper or for me to be interviewed. I would love for this to be a standard disposition all over the place. Alex Reta, the deputy Commonwealth attorney four Virginia. Thank.

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