Punishment for a group of teens who desecrated a historically African-American schoolhouse entails a ton of writing that would make any English teacher proud. According to NPR, five Virginia teens sprayed swastikas on The Ashburn Colored School, and pled guilty to the act.
A judge ruled in favor of Prosecutor Alex Rueda’s call for sentencing the suspects to writing a book report each month on pivotal authors of color, and establishments like the U.S. Holocaust Museum, bypassing possible jail time for their actions.
“Well, I don’t think they appreciated the significance of what they had done until it blew up in the newspaper and in the community at large,” she said to the news site. “So what they have to do is write a book report once a month. And I gave them a reading list of books that were about race and gender and religion and war. I chose “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker, “Native Son” by Richard Wright, “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. That’s sort of where the reading list goes.”
Rueda hopes the teens will learn to see the world through the eyes of those who don’t look like them, and realize the error of their ways. “I wanted them to learn about race and religion and gender and war. I mean, the books cover a whole gamut of topics,” she said. “So I wanted them to read about oppression all over the world. And, I mean, I want them to understand that this can happen anywhere and that these kinds of symbols can be very, very hurtful.”
When the parents learned of their children’s actions, Rueda said they “were mortified.” The prosecutor also adds that the teens were unaware of the significance of the schoolhouse that they vandalized.
“…the purpose of juvenile court, which is the court that they are in, No. 1, is rehabilitation,” Rueda said. “You really have to understand that the juvenile brain is very different than the adult brain. And juveniles don’t understand and appreciate the consequences of their actions.”