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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.

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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