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Suffolk's Jail Tours Offer At-Risk Youth a Dose of Reality

Categories: | Author: sheriff sheriff | Posted: 3/31/2014 | Views: 6005

RIVERHEAD, NY-- When Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco began offering “Youth Enlightenment” personal jail tours in 2010 for parents and their at-risk youth, he didn’t realize the impact it would have on the teenage participants.  “We wanted to show young people the realities of jail: the loud sounds of cells clanking shut, the lack of privacy, the noises,  and we wanted these youth to come away with a strong feeling that jail was not a place they wanted to be,” stated Sheriff DeMarco.  He added, “But what we learned over time by giving these tours is that the parents of these defiant kids really need support.  The Correction Officers who run these tours have become a resource for parents who don’t know where else to turn for help.”

The personal jail tours are available to Suffolk County residents and their children over the age of 13. When someone requests a personal jail tour for their teen through the Sheriff’s website, it will initiate a call from a Correction Officer who will often talk with the parent about the problems they are having with their child, and an appointment is made to visit the Riverhead Correctional Facility, in a group setting or individually.

Once they arrive at the jail, the youth and their parents will learn about the day-to-day life inside the correctional facility.  After the introduction, the Correction Officer will show them the crowded holding cells and walk through different housing areas.  The tour ends in the jail’s chapel area where inmates will talk frankly with the youth about how their own poor decisions led to incarceration. 

Jail Tours Suffolk County Sheriff Sheriff's Office Riverhead Correctional Facility Yaphank

“A lot of the kids and their parents are very emotional following the jail tour, and it undoubtedly leads many of these teens to reconsider how their behavior is leading them down the wrong path.   I would urge parents to consider taking their teens on a jail tour if they are exhibiting very defiant behavior, and to do it before it’s too late.” stated Sheriff DeMarco. 

The Sheriff’s Office offers a variety of prevention programs in addition to the personal jail tours, including free drug test kits, community substance abuse presentations, a drug take back initiative and an initiative to demonstrate the dangers of driving drunk. 

To request a jail tour, or for more information about Sheriff’s Office programs, visit www.suffolksheriff.com and use the "Community Programs Request Form" button on the left menu bar.

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