February 28, 2017

Matthew McConaughey Speaks to Youth at Project Engage

On Jan. 12, 2017, actor Matthew McConaughey visited youth offenders in Judge Brandy Mueller’s County Court at Law #6 as part of Project Engage.

Project Engage was begun in 2011 by Judge Mueller as a docket created especially for misdemeanor defendants who are 17, 18, and 19 years of age. According to Judge Mueller, these are the defendants who fall through the gaps of the criminal justice system. They are too old to have cases handled as juvenile offenders, yet they are often too young to be treated as an adult criminal.McConaughey1

Judge Mueller asked McConaughey to speak to the group of teenagers because of his experience working with inner-city teens with his organization, the Just Keep Livin Foundation.

The defendants in Project Engage are considered high-risk for re-offending for a number of reasons.  Many already have a criminal history at a young age. They often don’t have a stable residence, they have not graduated from high school, and they are often unemployed. Many also have siblings or other family members who are incarcerated, and some are former foster children who have aged out of the foster care system.

McConaughey spoke to the courtroom of teens about taking initiative and how the attitude of initiative impacted his career. Along with telling stories from movies he’s been in, he stayed on theme by reiterating how important it was for the teenagers to “take care of themselves and work hard” and “pull the weeds out” of their lives. After the speech, McConaughey answered questions, took photos, and gave all the teenagers time and attention.

“Besides the star power and Hollywood he brought to the courthouse, what he said to the probationers seemed to resonate with then,” said Judge Mueller.

McConaughey3 McConaughey2 McConaughey4