Judge Greg Mathis understands both sides of the criminal justice system. For more than 10 years, the street thug-turned-judge has used his nationally syndicated, award-winning court TV show to inject his no-holds-barred social, political–and oftentimes humorous–commentary. And today, the 48-year-old judge continues to use his courtroom as a platform to share his inspiring story of hardship and personal triumph with people of all ages and backgrounds, but especially those young men and women who need to turn their lives around. His only hope is that they listen.
The Detroit native and married father of four is also an accomplished author; his book, Street Judge (Strebor Books; $24), casts him as the main character, forced to straddle both sides of the law. In addition, he’s co-founder of Young Adults Asserting Themselves (Y.A.A.T.), a nonprofit organization that provides youth ages 17 to 25 with career and job training and college enrollment assistance. Black Enterprise caught up with the judge to have a conversation on what he really thinks about the “system” he works to keep troubled youth out of and why he feels obligated to help.
You deal with young men and women all the time in your courtroom. What is the underlying message you continually try to instill in them, especially black males?
The system is there to trap and destroy you. The best way to avoid the trap is to avoid self-destructive behavior that would lead you there.
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