Sunday, September 26, 2010

Juvenile Court Probation Officer New Orleans 1965 And 1966

That may sound like a good job but it was probably the worse job I ever had. I started with 10 cases and 9 months later I had 150 cases on my desk.
  I will tell a few of the more colorful cases that I had.

1. A young man was arrested for impersonating a doctor. He was 16 years old. He had bought some doctor equipment and clothes and wandered around a hospital pretending to be a doctor. He met a young woman and they were going to be married. Her mother spent 8000 dollars planning the wedding. Then they found out he was not a doctor and only 16 years old. He was just a great con man.
  If I remember right some months later I came out of our building at 731 Ursulines Street in the French Quarter and saw this young man standing up against a wall. I stopped to talk to him. I asked him what he was doing. He said he was watching that car as he pointed at some car. He said he had a job repossessing cars. I never saw him again.
  2. I had to go to Charity Hospital to see a kid who was on the psych ward. He had been stealing cars. He was only 16 years old. He denied all the charges and told me I had to get him out of that hospital that it was full of crazy people. And indeed it was.

 The event took place on the day before hurricane Betsy hit New Orleans in 1965. After left Charity hospital the skies were getting dark and menacing. I had just bought an automobile that day. A really old Studebaker. I think it was a 1955. It was built like a tank.

 I tried to get the psychiatrist to let the kid out but he refused. Instead he told me to read a book called THE MASK OF SANITY by Hervy Cleckly. It is the best book about sociopaths and psychopaths and how cunning and convincing they can be.

   I had to interview this kid's mother. She told me that voices from her radio were telling her what to do. And that if I didn't leave her son alone she would, "Scratch your eyes out".

3. I got a case for a young boy around 10 who had stolen a car. I think they called it unauthorized moving of a vehicle. That was the police language.

4. Another case involving a young boy of around 12 or 13 who along with some of his buddies were breaking in pinball machines in and around Tulane University. He came from a good and wealthy family.  I had to interview him. Shortly afterwards a young high powered Harvard educated attorney came into my office. He demanded to see the police report. I told him wait a minute. I had never had that happen before. I went and asked my boss and he said it was OK. Let him see it.

5.  We had many cases of black juveniles that had gotten in trouble. One case was an auto theft case involving three or four juveniles. When the case came before the Juvenile Court judge I had to sit in since I had written the family case history.
This particular judge had worked for Huey Long. In fact he was with Huey Long when he was shot at the capitol in Baton Rouge. He was hard on all cases.
 In fact it was almost routine that anyone who came before him went straight to "state school". That was the juvenile detention facility in Alexandria, Louisiana. There was a facility there for female juvenile offenders as well. I accompanied a female juvenile detention office once with a female offender there once via train from New Orleans to Alexandria,La.

Click to enlarge the picture.
   So the judge asked the arresting policce officer what the charge was on the young man. The police officer said " Car theft". The judge said "State School". Case closed. No further comment. However this case was not quite closed. The young black man hollered "You don't let nobody speak". He started to get out of his chair. The old white haired judge said "Ok, what have you got to say". The young man said "I didn't steal the car I was just riding in it". The judge said, "State school.".  They led the young man out of the courtroom. After they were gone the judge said to me, "I wish he had tried to come over this desk I would have broken his neck".