Improving kids with rap sheets through parole, probation - CBS46 News

Improving kids with rap sheets through parole, probation

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

CBS46 is taking a closer look at probation and parole.

Once kids get in trouble, and some of the diversion programs don't work, many juveniles find themselves in the system and on probation. I had an opportunity to ride along with a probation and parole officer as she managed her caseload and found a lot of what happens is parallel to parenting.

"I love it. I love helping kids because this is the future," says Clayton County juvenile court officer Stanlee Menniti.

Menniti doesn't have any children of her own, but with her work she does.

Her hands are full.

"I want kids, but with all the jobs that I've had, I wouldn't be giving my kids what they need," says Menniti. "I wind up giving to everybody else's kids."

Menniti has a case load of 22 kids, all with rap sheets. While it is her job to make sure those whom she supervises are complying with their conditions of probation, often times what she does may seem like parenting.

"There's all different types of probation officers, and I'm not one of the ones who's like, 'Let's lock them up right away.' I try as much as possible."

"Right now we're headed to one of my kids to pick up community service packets," she adds. "They have community service when they get charges as part of stipulations."

Most of her cases include kids who've been convicted for burglary, armed robbery or car theft. She says some of the kids commit these crimes because they want the stuff for themselves. Others do it to try and help their families.

"A lot of them have gotten away with it for so long that when they don't get caught, they just think it's a way of life," says Menniti.

On this day, we went house-to-house, door-to-door. When no one's home or doesn't answer, Menniti leaves a note so they know to contact her when they get home.

And that's not all. Sometimes she sits with kids in class to make sure they don't skip school or act up. Other times, she tracks them down at a friend's house.

After Gov. Nathan Deal mandated juvenile justice reform in 2013, Menniti says probation officers have been given more power to deal with kids who violate their amendments.

"We don't detain them, but we take them back to court and the judge has the option to detain them," says Menniti. "But we have to write a court report saying everything we've done to assist the family prior to getting the child detained."

At this next stop, Menniti is picking up an essay she made a child write for getting suspended, and encounters the parent during the stop.

"Did you read it?" she asks the parent. "I did, but I told him there were a lot of misspelled words."

"I have a lot of kids who are really very smart, their grades are like A's, but they're burglarizing houses," says Menniti.

That's the case with Sincere Williams, a student on probation who admits to being the "look out" for a group burglarizing a house. 

"Some people do it because they don't have a choice, and some people do it because they want to do what everybody else do," says Williams. 

Now Williams' aunt, Christine Dominick, just hopes he doesn't make another bad decision.

"I said, 'When you think you have friends, they're not your friends because you're better off by yourself, because you could do bad by yourself,'" she said.

"You get in trouble, you get detained, you're on probation, that should be the last time you do it because that probation will set you straight," adds Williams.

For Menniti, that's the outcome she's hoping for. Like a parent, she worries and the drive home is cathartic for her.

"I sing so I can decompress from the day because you hope, and you cross your fingers that none of them have been shot or killed, or have done anything else to get them hurt," says Menniti.

But here's what gives her hope.

"Maybe they do take some of the positivity and listen to the fact that there are people who think they can accomplish goals and that they'll become successful," says Menniti.

Copyright 2017 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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