Keep Juvenile Court Out of the Public Gaze
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Sept. 7 exposé about Juvenile Court Judge Alex Kim’s YouTube antics pulled back the curtain on the myth of the benevolent and wise juvenile court judge ensconced with the power to guide errant youth on a course of rehabilitation.
As in Oz, the man behind the curtain — and they are usually men — wields his power in harmful ways. But more than just the troubling conduct of one judge and the juvenile court he oversees, the Star-Telegram’s reporting reveals the way our modern juvenile court system causes lasting harm to youth, particularly and discriminately to Black, brown and Indigenous youth.
Garnering almost 2 million views, Judge Kim’s YouTube broadcast of his juvenile court proceedings show a judge employing racist stereotypes to criminalize a child, pressuring a confession from another child that ultimately endangered the child’s family, threatening another child with cutting off all contact with his mother, and transferring another child to criminal court for adult prosecution because the child swore at him. The videos show a biased judge abusing his authority; their publication online shows far more.
photo credit: Fort Worth Star-Telegram; still frame from Judge Alex Kim's YouTube channel