The Charlotte County Sheriff’s office recently started a new program to help troubled juveniles. Fresh Start had its first run earlier this month. It’s designed to scare youths away from committing future crimes by taking them to jail. Charlotte Sheriff’s spokesman Bob Carpenter explains what the participants do there.
“We take them through the jail, go through the whole process, I mean the whole process. Not just booking as a juvenile./ they’re putting on the old black and white striped uniforms. There’s also a feature in that when they come in it’s to embarrass them, yes, and they go into the pods where all these guys are still in their cells, they don’t have any contact with them. They can see how they live.”
Carpenter says Fresh Start is patterned after the national “Scared Straight” Program created in Rahway State Prison in New Jersey more than 20 years ago. Around that time, a study conducted by Rutgers University examining the Scared Straight program concluded it actually increased the chance of youths being arrested in certain cases. According to a Surgeon General report, many studies also found this type of shock program ineffective and, at times, even harmful to youths. Earlier this year, a 16-year-old girl who was participating in a “Scared Straight” program in Georgia tried to strangle herself. However, Carpenter says Charlotte County’s Fresh Start program is different.
“It is all supervised. Sometimes that Scared Straight Program got a little out of hand around the country many many years ago and they just felt that the kids were just a little too close to contact. This is very well supervised. They’re not mingling. They can’t be touched by any inmate. The inmates are locked in their cells.”
The program is not only for first time juvenile offenders but also for those considered to be “at risk.” The idea came from Deputy Larry Langston who brought the proposal to Sheriff John Davenport. Langston, who heads another juvenile program in Charlotte, said he observed programs similar to Fresh Start in other areas and thought they were effective. The Sheriff’s Office is currently in the process of scheduling youths for the program.
Thursday, 17 August 2006 01:00
Fresh Start ProgramWritten by WGCU Newsroom