Sheriff's Awareness Program Directed Toward "At Risk Kids"

High school students identified as "at risk kids" take in the sights and sounds of the Adult Detention Center as part of the Sheriff's Criminal Justice Awareness Program. Sheriff's deputies let the teens see close up how poor choices made now may lead to the absence of personal choice and freedom later. The program aims to de-glorify the jail experience.An inmate at the Adult Detention Center addresses a group of students.

"Jail is not a 'cool' place to be," says Captain Sean Whitmore, coordinator of the youth program. "You have no decision about what you wear, when you eat, and where you sleep. Your movements are restricted hour after hour, day after day."

Another goal for the program is to spark interest in the students to consider a future career in law enforcement as a Fairfax County deputy sheriff.

The students' tour followed the same path a suspect in custody would take, from booking to classification to housing. The Fairfax County jail has several types of jail housing to address the varied security risks and mental health issues of its male and female population. The students also walk through the Juvenile Court to learn more about the criminal justice system.Sheriff's deputy talks explains the inmate booking process to student group.

For many students, the highlight of the tour is hearing from a current inmate about his life in jail and how he got there. On a recent tour, the students heard from a young man serving time for a stabbing. He told the kids how he joined a gang, dropped out of school in eighth grade, and sold cocaine. Today he is 20 years old and faces an uncertain future when he gets out of jail. "I made poor choices, you know what I'm saying. It was stupid. I need to get away from the gangs and start my life over."

To schedule a tour of the Adult Detention Center for your school group, please contact Captain Whitmore via e-mail or at 703-246-7521, TTY 711.

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