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Community Garden Vandals will perform Community Service in Garden

Five youths agreed in juvenile court to 200 hours of community service and $2,000 in restitution for vandalizing the community garden in March.

The five juveniles who were arrested for vandalizing the community garden this spring will receive a first hand look at how much work community volunteers put into the green patch at Brook Run Park.

After a hearing Tuesday in DeKalb juvenile court, an agreement was reached that will allow  the juveniles to keep felony charges of criminal vandalism off their records, and will give the local community garden 200 hours of community service, according to community garden members.

The youths will also pay the garden the $2,000 in estimated damage caused at the end of March.

During a night of vandalism, the youths damaged the majority of the garden's beds, as well as deer fencing and trellises in the garden, and beds of lettuce that were to be harvested and given to a local food pantry.

Each of the juveniles will be responsible for 40 hours of community service - which will begin immediately and need to be completed by August.

Arthur Simon, with the garden, said that he and another garden member met with the youths after the hearing.

All apologized, he said. The youths are scheduled to begin their punishment this weekend by pulling Bermuda grass from the paths in the garden and laying chips to keep weeds at bay. 

Simon was asking for garden volunteers to direct the young workers to other tasks in the garden to complete their community service stint.

"We will all benefit from this experience," he wrote.

James Tola June 27, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Malachi's Storehouse generously gives donations of food for those in need weekly and when the vandalism occured at Dunwoody Community Garden it greatly impacted the hungry. Malachi's Storehouse is located at St. Patrick's Episcopal church and we have a garden that also contributes to the hungry at Malachi's. One of the youth will be at Malachi's today to assist us in our garden and see first hand the people that they affected when they vandalized the Dunwoody Community Garden. A life lesson with real faces!!!!! James Tola Keller Williams Realty
What goes around comes around June 27, 2012 at 06:25 PM
I'm not ready to be quite as forgiving. Is the 200 hours for EACH, or a total? If there were 5 juveniles, a total of 200 amounts to one week of their time. Pulling weeds? Big deal. And I thought the damage was closer to $4,000, not $2,000. Are the parents paying this, or are the kids mowing lawns or something to pay it back? I am also disappointed that the parents have not made them (because obviously the little darlings havent taken the initiative), apologize to the entire City, all the people who had to reconstruct the extensive damage they created, as well as to Malachi's. Really. If Home Depot and Costco and the good volunteers at the garden hadn't all stepped forward, hungry people would have gone hungry. Sorry, but this "punishment" in exchange for a reduction from the felony charge hardly seems like justice. But I will do my best to try to remain positive in the hope that they will learn their lesson.
Jason Massad June 27, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Each of the juveniles would be responsible for 40 hours of community service. The damages were worked out in court between community garden representatives and the juvenile plaintiffs, and the agreed upon amount was $2,000.
Rob June 27, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Do we know why the hearing was in Dekalb county and not Dunwoody? I thought this is why we became a city, to take care of our own business affairs?
Jason Massad June 27, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Dunwoody has a municipal court that handles traffic violations and misdemeanors in Dunwoody. These juveniles were being charged with a felony.
Rob June 28, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Thanks Jason, Also, I personally do not think these kids should have been initially charged with felonies, and I am sure there is not a judge in the world who would not have allowed them to plead down to a misdemeanor in a courtroom.
Jason Massad June 28, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Yeah, I asked Dunwoody police about this charge. Apparently, you cause more than $500 in damage and you could be charged with felony vandalism. The agreement on these five kids came between garden representatives and the Dekalb DA's office - and then approved by a judge.
Sara Cashin July 05, 2012 at 03:26 PM
The punishment fits the crime! I'd like to add, as a teacher and a parent in the community, that we should not wait until something like this happens to teach citizenship through experiential learning. It should be proactive rather than reactive. As in Mr. Tola's comment above, there is no substitute for real people and real accountability; therefore why not implement community service in our homes and classrooms? DCSS' budget shortfalls are hurting our kids' futures. Luckily, it doesn't cost anything to volunteer in the community and reap the rewards of serving others.

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