A magistrate in a Western Australia court has advised a young offender to be more like rapper 50 Cent.
Dean Potter was sentencing the 16-year-old Indigenous Australian for theft charges in Geraldton, 260 miles north of Perth, but said he wanted him to achieve his full potential.
Mr Potter told the teenager: “Like you, 50 Cent came from the most tragic, traumatic circumstances. He was able to rise above them through sheer hard work and dedic
Indigenous Australians the most ancient civilisation on Earth
“I think you have the potential to do the same and avoid a life in that criminal justice system.”
50 Cent, a New York rapper, overcame a tumultuous early life to find success through music. His mother, a drug dealer, died when he was eight and he went on to sell drugs himself through his youth.
He was shot nine times in 2000 but went on to have a successful music career after Eminem heard one of his records.
Mr Potter told the teenager that if he ended up in the criminal justice system, he would find it harder to turn his life around. “You don’t want to be part of the problem, you want to be part of the solution. Mr Potter said, ABC reported.
“In 10 years I want to look you up and see your successes.”
Referencing the massive social problems faced by Indigenous Australians, the judge added: “If people were able to walk a mile in your shoes, I think they’d be as astounded by you as I am.”
50 Cent: “I still have passion for music’ but Freeway Rick taught me grinding on the corporate level is more lucrative, shit, he made 2 million a day”
The teenager, who faced 49 theft and burglary charges, received a six-month intensive supervision order and 40 hours of community service for 14 of the counts. Mr Potter said the boy’s mother would sufficiently punish him for the rest.
Australia’s Indigenous people are vastly over represented in the country’s prisons. Despite making up just 2.5 per cent of the general population, Indigenous people made up 27 per cent of the prison population in 2015.
In addition, Indigenous children and teenagers are 24 times more likely to be jailed than non-indigenous youngsters, and make up 50 per cent of the juvenile detention population.
Indigenous women are 30 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous women.
The problem has reached such crisis proportions that in October the Australian government commissioned an inquiry into the trends, committing £159 million to help fight the causes of the issue.
The decision was welcomed by the Law Council of Australia.
“For far too long Australia has failed to address Indigenous incarceration with sufficient urgency,” Council President Stuart Clark told Pro Bono Australia.
“As a result we have seen Indigenous imprisonment rates skyrocket. Twenty-five years ago Indigenous peoples were being imprisoned at seven times the rate of the broader population, today it’s 14 times. This is nothing short of a national catastrophe.”