Youth Crime Awareness Prevention Program 2019

“Stand Alone When Making a Choice”

Jena Junior High eighth graders tour a LaSalle Correctional Center (LCC) dormitory and hear from an inmate as part of the seventh annual Youth Crime Awareness Program (YCAP). Eighth graders from across the parish visited LCC in Urania to attend YCAP and hear advice and personal testimonies from inmates on what they hope will change the lives of the students. The program began seven years ago to open the eyes of parish eighth graders to the potential consequences of negative choices in life by touring LCC including a dormitory and holding cell and hearing testimonies from inmates. The goal for this program is to make the consequence of prison a reality to the students so hopefully they will make “wise choices” in life and not have to endure the outcome of a life of crime.

This year’s message during the Youth Crime Prevention Program (YCAP) surrounded peer pressure and making choices. Since 2013, the LaSalle Parish Sheriff’s Office and the LaSalle Correctional Center have hosted YCAP and invited eighth grade students to tour the prison and hear testimonies from inmates.

Sheriff Scott Franklin’s vision is to bring eighth graders in every year and allow them to see what life would be like in prison. He chose eighth grade because they already experience peer pressure in junior high. They are heading into high school years where peer pressure will ramp up and go to a higher level due to the availability of vehicles and transportation to go to and from different events.

At YCAP, the students listen to inmates give testimonies of their bad decisions, what led them down that road and what life is like in prison.

“Our intention is to make YCAP a reality-based program to plant something in the back of these student’s minds. When these youth are faced with peer pressure, it will help them make the right decision knowing where a bad decision could lead them unlike the Scared Straight Program, where prison workers would yell at kids and try to put fear in them,” Franklin stated.

Two first offenders shared their stories on how peer pressures, anger and bad choices ruined their life.

“No matter how good your life was or if you were in the military or went to college, one bad mistake is all it takes to change a life forever,” said Sheriff Franklin during the event. “It was a hard lesson to learn and neither ever thought how their actions could affect their life and the people around them.”

Don’t let so-called friends or your anger influence your decision to break the law. Choose your friends wisely. Evaluate them by their morals, ethics, religion and choices they make. You can be friendly to people but you don’t have to allow their lifestyle to influence your life. And never let pride, anger or hate dictate your actions. Otherwise all the dreams you had will be lost to one bad mistake influenced by others. There’s a saying, “When you go to jail, you go alone.” So, stand alone when making a choice and you won’t have to worry about someone else’s bad decision changing your life.