Students at Zephyrills High School got some lessons about the consequences of making bad choices in life, coming from people who probably wish they had listened.
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office launched its "Juvenile Choice" program where students hear directly from four prison inmates. In recorded messages, they talk about how they ended up behind bars.
Cpl. Ron Gardner and Deputy Tim Bullock worked closely with the inmates and developed the presentation. The goal is to teach young people the far-reaching consequences of bad choices.
"What we're hoping that they take away from this is that they have a value to our society, so that they become productive citizens, because it's not an easy road being a kid nowadays," Bullock said.
Students say the stories from the inmates will make them think twice.
"What scares me the most is being in prison and just having to put my family and friends through all of that stress," said 11th grader Jordan Roberts.
The hour-long power point presentation includes the dangers of the prescription drug abuse, which is a huge problem in Pasco County.
Teachers say the program will definitely open students' eyes.
"Any exposure that you give to a student that gives them options and lets them look at the bigger picture in life is certainly beneficial," criminal justice teacher Robert Perrault said.
The Juvenile Choice Program presentation will also be shown to juveniles participating in the court mandated monthly Juvenile Arbitration program at Pasco Safety Town.
The Pasco Sheriff's Office plans to bring the program to 4,000 students.
The department is also working with the YMCA, The United Way of Pasco County, Boys & Girls Club of Pasco County and Pasco Police Athletic League.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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