We gave both Judge Jeremiah, a Rhode Island juvenile court judge, and Matthew, a 16-year-old repeat offender, tape recorders. Judge Jeremiah released Matthew early, for good behavior. Two weeks later, Matthew was arrested again for selling drugs. Through their diaries, Matthew and the judge tell the same story from two different sides of the bench.
*This story originally aired on NPR in 2001. Two years later, at the age of 18, and legally an adult, Matthew was released. He had spent his last three birthdays behind bars and he was looking forward to celebrating one at home. But, just a few blocks from his house, a rival drug dealer — a 16-year-old kid — shot him. Matthew was killed a day before his birthday. He would have been 19.