When Circuit Judge Deborah Thomas in Detroit doles out her punishment to criminal offenders, part of her sentencing plan is ordering those who have not completed high school to do so, says the Detroit News. Two years ago, Thomas went a step further. She began displaying the high school diplomas and GED certificates of ex-offenders on a wall of her courtroom. “It motivates them,” said Thomas about the people who come back months later after accomplishing the court-ordered task. “It shows a sense of pride. I have others who come into the courtroom and they say 'I want mine up there, judge' or 'judge, you don't have to worry, I'm going to get mine up there.' “
Thomas, a former Detroit school teacher, has gathered about 40 diplomas for her wall. One is from DeQuane Curry, 19, who needed to complete a semester before getting his diploma. He brought in his diploma Dec. 22 for the judge after she asked him to complete it in March. “I remember Judge Thomas saying without my education there is no path you can go down,” said Curry, who says he will begin college in January to study toward becoming a registered nurse. “It woke me up and made me realize my diploma is the best thing I've got going. It feels good.” Thomas said because a lack of education is part of the problem that led some of the ex-offenders into trouble, she stresses to them the importance of completing their schooling.