Columbia County Chief Magistrate Judge Wade Padgett addressed a full room Monday night, but his talk about teen problems with alcohol, drugs and sex hit home with at least one adult.
Tyrone Usry, 38, of Augusta, stood up to say that he wished that such a program had been available when he was younger.
"It would have helped a lot," Mr. Usry said.
He said he has been in prison six times. The first two times were drug-related, and the other times were for parole violations.
He has been out of prison for just over a year.
Mr. Usry, who heard about Judge Padgett's session while watching the news Monday, decided that he would stop by Barton Village Community Center to see what it was all about.
"I stood at the door for several minutes. I saw all the cops and didn't know if this was the place for me," he said.
"Listen to your parents and don't try to be in the 'in' crowd. It makes a difference," he told those present.
He went on to say that his mother reared him well and that it wasn't the system that pulled him into crime.
"I can only blame myself," he said.
Judge Padgett has been speaking to area groups of teens and parents about the legal consequences of sex and drugs, but Monday was his first presentation in Richmond County.
The judge asked Mr. Usry what made him realize that jail was not for him.
Mr. Usry said remembering how he had not been around for his mother or his son keeps him on the straight and narrow.
As the teens left the session, many could be heard telling him "Thank you," for his story.
"I don't want them to make the same mistakes I did," Mr. Usry said.
Helen Blocker-Adams, a candidate for state representative of House District 120, conducted the session.
She said that she hopes to bring the session to other areas in south Augusta because of its crime rate.
Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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