Some young people just need to be taught respect. They need to be taught that running their mouths at authority figures is not funny or cool or strong. It’s ignorant. So when a Florida judge leveled some harsh penalties at an 18-year-old girl who looked at her arraignment like a joke, I didn’t think it was overstepping or abusing his power. I thought, “Thank you for teaching that kid a lesson!”
Penelope Soto is a young Florida woman who was being charged with drug possession, specifically prescription Xanax. From the beginning of her court appearance, she giggled and joked. She played with her hair a lot. Apparently, she wasn’t capable of looking down, seeing her bright orange jumpsuit, and realizing that she was appearing in a court of law.
At first, the judge simply admonished her. “This is not a joke,” he told her. But as she continued to get more flippant, he got irritated. When she sauntered off with an “Adios” after the judge set bail, that’s when she pushed things too far. And here’s where the life lessons come.
First, the judge doubled her bail from $5,000 to $10,000. Instead of accepting the obvious punishment for her behavior and demeanor, the girl got angry. She flipped off the judge. She yelled, “Fuck you!” She acted like a child throwing a temper tantrum. And for that, the judge called her back to court and sentenced her to 30 days in jail for criminal contempt.
This young woman is just another teen who probably doesn’t understand the serious consequences of her actions. But she needs to. She needs to know that losing your temper is not acceptable. She needs to know that blowing off or blowing up at authority figures will not further your cause. This teenager obviously needs a lesson in appropriate behavior. And this judge taught her one.
It might seem like a steep punishment for a first-time offender who lost her cool, but hopefully those 30 days will give her a little time to figure out how legals adults are expected to behave.