“We have to protect our kids because my colleagues and I consider them to be our kids.”—Judge Dwayne Woodruff
Helping protect our juveniles, our kids, our youth, our children is critical to the survival of any group of people but it has become critical to the Black community with our kids gunning down each other, while the surviving members are filling the jails, or just hanging on the corner doing nothing constructive.
Judge Dwayne Woodruff is living proof why it’s so vital to have concerned Black people in positions of power. No they can’t correct or catch all the problems but for everyone they do help is a huge bonus.
He could have very easily taken his money as an ex-Steeler and beautiful wife and started up a business and said, “The Hell With All these Problem Youth.” But he and wife Joy Maxwell-Woodruff, have dedicated a large portion of their life to working with troubled youth through their mentoring program, and Judge Woodruff through his position as a judge.
Instead of simply throwing the book at them, or giving them as much time as possible, he’s working to try to keep them from entering the criminal justice system through his mentoring program, as well as trying to keep the ones in it from coming back once they get out.
Out of all the Steelers who have come and gone, a few have really contributed to the betterment of Pittsburgh, with Charlie Batch, Chuck Sanders, Mel Blount and Jerome Bettis appearing at the top of the list. But even though these guys are more visible, the work Judge Woodruff is doing with all youth but young Black males in particular is by far the most important and most outstanding contribution of all the ex-Steelers.
It was shocking to hear that two Luzerne County judges had conspired to sentence juveniles who had committed minor infractions and some none, to a private jail for kickbacks. Think about it. This was mostly a White county, which led to them being caught because they picked a straight A student with parents who probably had some pull. But how many kids were sentenced to time they didn’t deserve. I wonder how much of this stuff is going on in major urban areas throughout this country? Philadelphia County for example. Not just for money, but how many judges see Blacks as criminals who should be locked up? How many lives are destroyed instead of helped by biased judges? Judges are treated like gods in our society and many think they are gods because of the power given them. But there should be some kind of safe guard against bad judges who are in most cases appointed for life.
It appears that in Allegheny County, behind the leadership of Judge Woodruff, the judges themselves are implementing safeguards. These safeguards need to be implemented throughout the state, and the country. Because no group of people, including judges, should have no restraints, or safeguards to prevent them from abusing their power.
He was a good defensive back for the Steelers but Judge Dwayne Woodruff has become a far greater contributor to the well being of Pittsburgh youth. We need more like him.
(Ulish Carter is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)