Mississippi judge says most agree to write him a 1,000-word essay to keep the conviction off their records and avoid hefty costs. He recommends they give him 500 words each on alcohol’s impact and on one of the most feared books in the Bible.
BILOXI, Miss. — Judge Albert Fountain offers youths found with alcohol an offer most don’t refuse.
In part, they must write him a 1,000-word essay to keep the conviction off their records and avoid hefty costs.
They can write the entire essay about the effects of alcohol, but Fountain recommends they give him 500 words each on that and on the Book of Revelation, one of the most feared books in the Bible.
Revelation is believed to contain prophetic words about the end times or the apocalypse and the second coming of Jesus Christ. It’s also known for its symbolism, including the mark of the beast and the number 666.
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Perhaps no one has been as surprised at the response as Fountain.
“I’ve been doing this eight or 10 years, and 19 out of 20 (offenders) read the book and write about Revelation,” he said.
“I don’t force them to do it. It’s their choice.”
Fountain has been a Harrison County Justice Court judge in Biloxi for 20 years and D’Iberville Municipal Court judge for 10 years.
“I came up with this idea after thinking about ways to make a positive difference in the lives of youths,” he said.
Fountain said he spoke with an ethics expert to make sure he wasn’t overstepping his bounds.
Those who accept the plea offer must hand over their driver’s license for 10 days and maintain good behavior, and are placed on 90 days of nonreporting probation. The case is then non-adjudicated and it stays off their record.
Those who don’t accept the offer are fined $500, ordered to pay a state assessment of $155.75 and lose their license for 90 days. And the conviction stands as a misdemeanor record.
“When they read Revelation, they can’t help but think about what we’re heading for in the future if we don’t do the right thing,” Fountain said.
“I’ve had them come back with tears in their eyes,” he said.
“They tell me it’s a scary book to read. I can’t force them to do it, but all I can do is plant a seed.”
Fountain said he also has been surprised at the number of youths and parents who have never heard of the Book of Revelation. And he’s been surprised by favorable comments from parents in court and from phone calls.
“Just today, I heard of a woman who said her daughter came before me eight years ago and said it completely changed her daughter’s life,” Fountain said.
He’s encountered a few people who disagreed with the Revelation recommendation.
“If they tell me they’re an atheist or don’t believe in Jesus Christ, I say, ‘Well that’s your opinion, sir or ma’am.’
“God has put it on my heart to do this,” he said. “They may never be exposed to it ever again. It may change their entire life.”