From the Pasco Sheriff’s Office
Deputies from the Pasco Sheriff’s Office Land O’ Lakes Detention Center have recently created a new program that is aimed at demonstrating to at-risk juveniles the importance of making good decisions in their lives, and the negative consequences of when they make bad choices.
This eye-opening program features both a PowerPoint slide presentation, taped video interviews with real jail inmates, and descriptions from the detention deputies’ real life experiences about what they see in jail every day.
Deputies understand the temptations our modern society throws at kids today, and how it can lead them down the wrong road. The Juvenile Choice Program lists concrete ways in which pre-teens and teenagers can develop the skills to become and remain productive citizens. These include:
• Have goals in life
• You become who you hang with
• Every decision has consequences … good or bad
• Committing a crime can haunt you for life
• Be a leader, not a follower
• Be proud and stand tall
Included in the program is a picture tour of the Land O’ Lakes Detention Center, designated as an end point to bad decisions. The kids learn about how they will have to wear used inmate clothing, be told when to eat, see the less-than-desirable food that is served in jail, and the small cells with toilets that will become their living space for months, if not years, to come.
Juvenile Choice Program participants will hear testimonies from inmates who describe their bad decisions and why they ended up in jail. Inmates explain that they used to be just like them, until they lost focus in life, started hanging out with criminals, drug users and drop-outs. Inmates woefully describe how they wished they had the chance to do it over again, and to make the right choices in life.
Other elements of the program include insights from successful people in life from the business, sports, and political world. Pre-teens and teenagers will also learn that though mistakes and failure can come even from good choices, this is a valuable part of life, as long as you learn from your mistakes, and keep striving to be your best. Numerous quotes from celebrities provided to program participants illustrate this, such as the one from Michael Jordan: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twentysix times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
We believe this program will be an effective tool and become an important part of our interaction with these kids before it is too late. We are working with juvenile justice authorities, Pasco school personnel, and other organizations to reach as many of these kids as we can.