Running with the Judge, 'Making a new start'

- They hit the pavement early in the morning, running through the streets of skid row in Los Angeles with an important goal in mind. “Making a new start,” says one of the runners.

That’s what all of the men in this running group want—a better life.  They are homeless recovering addicts, now training to run marathons with Craig Mitchell.

Mitchell started the Midnight Mission Running Club. When he’s not out pounding the pavement with the group, he’s behind the bench at LA’s Superior Criminal Court house. He says, “It certainly provides a great balance for me as a judge to realize that in a different setting, the same people that I sent to state prison or to county jail, with the right supportive services in a different context, their lives can be rebuilt.” Since the program started four years ago, there have been numerous success stories.

Judge Mitchell says it comes down to realizing that one person’s mistake does not define them in their entirety. He says, “There are times as a judge that I have to lower the boom and it’s appropriate to protect the community to punish someone for what they did, but before I was a judge, before I entered the law, I was a high school teacher for 17 years and it instilled in me a sense of what people are capable of if they’re given the right tools set.” Most of the men in this club were not really into running until they met Judge Mitchell, since then, some have completed international marathons.

This year, they plan to run the LA Marathon and another one in the Vietnam. No doubt, Judge Mitchell is making a difference.

It’s expensive to run international marathons. Judge Mitchell pays for a lot of the costs out of his own pocket but the group keeps growing and funds are in need.

If you wold like to help, you can make donations to the  and specify for running program or text Run16 to 71777.

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