The iPhone Story, continued

 In Blog, News

You may or may not remember the story of my stolen iPhone. The following is an update, and how my Leadership Atlanta class played a role.

The young man who initially tried to steal my phone last April was only 16 years old. As a result, he went into the juvenile justice system in Fulton County. Ultimately several procedural issues delayed his appearance before the court, but finally, on January 7, 2014, he went before the judge and I was summoned to attend.

I had reflected on what I learned on “criminal justice day” while participating in the Leadership Atlanta program, and knew that I did not want to see him become a sad statistic. I determined to do whatever I could to help this young man truly understand his situation, and give him the opportunity to choose a better path. After making this decision, I visualized the two of us talking and realized that a white guy who wants to be a do-gooder would probably have less of a chance of making an impact than would a respected person of his own color. At a function shortly thereafter I heard a Leadership Atlanta classmate, Raphael Warnock, senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, talk about his upbringing in public housing in Savannah. Reflecting on how far Raphael had come, I immediately knew that putting Raphael together with the young man would be the best thing that I could ever do for him. And, thankfully, Raphael agreed to help out.

When I walked out of the hearing on January 7, during which the young man admitted his guilt and asked me for forgiveness (which, of course, I gave with tears in my eyes), I waited for the young man. He was sentenced to probation, the terms of which would be determined after his assigned probation officer had an opportunity to assess the young man’s situation. When he and his mother emerged, I asked their permission to speak with them, and told them about my relationship with Raphael and his willingness to meet with them. They both thanked me and I headed back to work, wondering if they would really follow through.

Later, not knowing how to reach the young man or his mother, I wanted to figure out how to keep this opportunity before them and maximize the likelihood that they would follow through. So I reached out to two other Leadership Atlanta classmates, Todd Markle, a Superior Court judge in Fulton County, and Susan Edlein, a State Court judge in Fulton County, who agreed to help with communicating my desires to the court. Todd contacted the juvenile court judge, and now that the probation officer has been assigned, he is aware of the mentorship that Raphael and I would like to offer the young man. I have no doubt that this young man’s story, being written right now by multiple contributing authors, will have a happy ending. Stay tuned.

– Jim Durrett

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