I was pleasantly surprised that my visit to detention camps for juvenile girls run by the Los Angeles Probation Department turned out to be encouraging and uplifting.
Instead of finding a cadre of angry and hostile girls in a punitive prison setting, I saw clean classrooms attended by very normal-looking, unusually engaged students taught by caring teachers promoting the message that character counts.
It was encouraging to see a government program so well designed and executed.
The highlight was meeting a young girl who recently discovered that she is a talented writer.
She read me the following poem and gave me permission to share it with you:
I remember the first time I fell in love.
I can still smell his scent, I can feel the texture of his hug.
I remember his eyes – a deep chocolate brown.
I could have sworn he was an angel wearing a golden crown.
Every day I’d admire him from afar
And every day he shone brighter than the prettiest night star.
From what I can remember he told me he loved me first
And at that moment I felt my heart burst.
See, I loved this man with every inch of my soul,
‘Til slowly but surely his warmth turned to coal.
The light that once shone is now ever so dim.
So I walked the earth looking for another like him.
See, the love of a father is practically impossible to replace.
So what am I to do now that the love we had is an empty space?
She wrote the poem to describe her feelings when her dad stopped talking to her after she was sent to the camp. Happily, he has since reestablished contact.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.