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Judge's 23-year-old decision on juveniles is transforming young lives brilliantly even today

Judge John Phillips made a decision to find a better alternative for juveniles. Over two decades later, his decision is instilling hope and paving the way for a new life.

Judge's 23-year-old decision on juveniles is transforming young lives brilliantly even today
Cover Image Source: Instagram | @ranchocieloyouth

It is a sad reality that youth commit crimes and have to be put in juvenile homes or even prison. The young future of the world is at stake and for the youth themselves, the punishment for their crime takes a tragic toll on their outlook on life. However, one judge in California decided to stir things up while adhering to the law and making a difference in the kids’ lives. As reported by USA Today, Judge John Phillips made a decision 23 years ago that still impacts the lives of youth. His idea stemmed from a murder case that crossed his desk, which urged him to protect the law while looking out for the boy’s future.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | cottonbro studio
Representative Image Source: Pexels | cottonbro studio

The judge shared that he was to hear a case about a young boy who committed murder. The boy seemed to be angry and unrepentant till his grandmother came in. That's when the judge pondered, "He broke down and started crying. He was just a kid. And I’m thinking, 'I’m sending kids to prison for life.’” 


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Rancho Cielo Youth Campus (@ranchocieloyouth)


 

The now 81-year-old judge who has been involved with the law for over 30 years says that he had seen everything from theft, assault, murder and more. He observed and said, "It's very easy to pull a trigger if you don't have any future, you don't have any goals and you don't have anything to look forward to.”


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Rancho Cielo Youth Campus (@ranchocieloyouth)


 

That’s when the judge decided to make a change. He decided to give the kids a life to look forward to. He recollected a site in Salinas, California, which was a juvenile incarceration facility that had been closed down after the 1980s. Judge Phillips reflected on the thought that led him to recreate the site to aid youth before they appeared in court, giving them a chance to change. And that’s where Rancho Cielo Youth Campus came into being. Developed years ago, it today stands as a high-end private school that aids children from Monterey County. Kids between the ages of 16 and 24 who don’t fit in at regular school are all welcome at Rancho Cielo.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Rancho Cielo Youth Campus (@ranchocieloyouth)


 

The organization has grown quite well over the years. With workshops, lessons, equipment and more, kids are finding a new hope to look forward to. What started as an institution for juveniles has expanded to an intriguing place to learn with a more unique and vibrant program. That’s not all, the kids there are beyond genius and have taken initiative towards creative projects. Julieta Mendoza-Alba, 17, gave a tour of the school and excitedly explained the many models and technologies being innovated. The students also took part in the Orange County Sustainable Decathlon to build a net-zero model home that aids in the housing crisis and climate issues.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Rancho Cielo Youth Campus (@ranchocieloyouth)


 

After competing with 13 schools, the students of Rancho Cielo, who would have been looked down on or as criminals, were now victorious for their hard work and young brilliant minds. Mendoza shared her experience about Rancho Cielo compared to her local school and said, "It was just sitting in class, there wasn't the support I needed.” Adding to her experience with Rancho Cielo, she said, "I learned to use a nail gun, to hang drywall, to paint." There is everything and more for kids to learn and grow. Children also receive certifications and are prepared for jobs and careers with mentors and resources. Right from horses, planting, painting, carpentry and lessons, children are given the freedom to choose their vibrant future and it has been a blessing for many thriving since 2003!


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Rancho Cielo Youth Campus (@ranchocieloyouth)


 

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