Judge Ward outlines unusual sentence for Mageo
Associate Justice and District Court Judge John Ward has ordered an unusual 100 Hours of Community Service for Simon Mageo, the former principal of Samoana High School, who was convicted of two counts of third degree assault on two of his students.
In a letter written to Chief Probation Officer, Tauiliili Silivelio Iosefa, Ward said he has ordered Mageo to prepare a comprehensive proposal for the Department of Education to establish a territory–wide program of peer mediation and conflict resolution instruction for public school students beginning in the fourth grade.
Ward said Hawaii and Guam have had such programs in place for years so the defendant should be instructed to contact DOE personnel in those jurisdictions to determine what aspects of their program could be adopted locally to teach kids how to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence.
“Although I have written to, or met with several prior Directors of Education and Police Commissioners concerning the establishment and potential federal grant financing of such juvenile crime prevention programs, no action has ever been taken to seriously evaluate and implement similar programs in the territory,” stated Ward.
“The Court is being overwhelmed with preventable juvenile delinquency and youthful offender crimes. Last year we processed nearly 300 new juvenile delinquency cases, nearly half of which were school-related (alcohol or other drugs on campus, firearms or explosives on campus, break-ins/burglaries/thefts on campus, fights on or near campus and after sporting events)”.
Ward noted in his letter that DOE’s truancy, non-attendance and drop-out rates are staggeringly high and a significant percentage of young adult misdemeanor criminal defendants are high school drop-outs.
“Curbing violence in the schools and keeping kids in school would not only reduce juvenile crime rates, but eventually reduce the numbers of young adult high school drop-outs, who make up about 200 to 250 of the 800 or so misdemeanor criminal cases this Court processes every year in addition to felony, DUI and other criminal case load,” says the letter.
Ward noted that these programs could significantly reduce and prevent a large portion of the court’s and probation’s caseload.
Ward sought assistance from Chief Probation Officer to personally oversee Mageo regarding the proposal.
“The territory is literally spending millions of dollars on police enforcement, prosecution, and public defenders, court and probation, prison, and juvenile detention facility, and personnel costs each year to remedy on an individual case by case basis recurring behavior problems that could be prevented through inexpensive, currently available programs. We are wasting limited resources and more importantly wasting the lives of too many of our children,” said Ward.
Mageo was initially charged with two charges of third degree assault and two charges of endangering the welfare of a child. In the plea deal, he pled guilty to third degree assault while the remaining charges were dismissed. The assault counts are class C misdemeanors punishable by up to 15 days in jail, a fine of up to $300 or both.
He was the Samoana High School Principal at the time he slapped one student, and pulled another student’s earlobe, which led to the criminal charges being filed against him.