The Water Cooler – Teenagers Touring Prisons

July 7, 2014 12:00 pm · 48 comments

The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it! The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon!

Today’s question:

Do you think public school kids should have to take mandatory field-trips to our state prisons to try and deter them from a life of crime? Do you think it would work?

Talk about it….

Public School Kids July 7, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Grade, Middle or High School Grades?

There may be some influence on Grade School and Middle school children, but by High School, more than likely, the path has been chosen.

The City or County Jail is pretty darn scary to me, state prisons may be a little too much for children.

SKS July 7, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Sure. Why not? Being exposed to felons convicted of crimes is a reality check…. too many kids are sheltered from the scums of society by helicopter parents.

They also get to see how there tax dollars are spent and mis-spent.

Dorothy July 7, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Yes, and not just the public school kids. The way this question is phrased, one would think all private school kids never need corrective actions and all public school kids are nascent hoodlums.

May not work on all but could work for some.

not mandatory July 7, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Should not be mandatory (do parents still have any rights?), but as an experience it couldn’t hurt and might help.

Cat Wrangler July 7, 2014 at 12:30 PM

What a very good idea. And maybe those guilty of DUI, drug use and gang and violent activity could make field trips to the coroner to see what their inevitable end is unless they make U turns in their lives. Nothing like a cold, dead body on an autopsy table after an accident or gunshot to shock someone back to hard, cold reality.

The Mamba July 7, 2014 at 12:33 PM

I don’t really think it is necessary for all kids, but I do think it is a good tool to scare the troubled ones.

Stan July 7, 2014 at 12:35 PM

No. They would just think it was cool. D.A.R.E did not work either!

Sophia July 7, 2014 at 12:37 PM

It’s what you learn in the home and the friends you keep that keep you on the right path.

What security July 7, 2014 at 12:37 PM

No it would not work, watch a video instead Jail is not a tourist place has not educational value it is a failed system.

Howdy July 7, 2014 at 12:38 PM

My dad worked in the California prison system for 35 years. I used to go with him on occasion to get his paycheck. I never went behind the prison walls, but the cat calls and yelling out the windows at you as you walked by was enough to make me never want to be in there. That, and all the stories of what goes on inside. I don’t think it should be a mandatory field-trip, as it may be too much for some kids to deal with. But, it might be helpful for others.

PHILTHYphresh July 7, 2014 at 12:40 PM

I say take them all over to San Quentin for tours once a year as long as the parents are good with it.

Marianne July 7, 2014 at 12:52 PM

This is a great idea! Scare these so called gang banger teens into the reality of the world.

Kirkwood July 7, 2014 at 1:08 PM

No, it should not be mandatory, but could be an option to a judge or probation officer for early or pre-teen offenders. Many youthful offenders have an “in the moment” mindset, for them there is no yesterday and no tomorrow.
Criminals never expect to be caught. That’s why the death penalty is useless as a deterrent, it is purely retribution or revenge.

PO'd July 7, 2014 at 1:15 PM

I don’t think that it would impress the ones that need help the most, because the one thing all criminals share is the belief that they won’t get caught.That sort of stupidity would be hard to break by the time they are in high school. It might help a kid starting to lean that way, but if your surroundings are sketchy, than all bets are off.

Sid July 7, 2014 at 1:20 PM

No. What a waste of taxpayer money it would be to take every student on a prison visit. Most kids are not headed towards a life of crime and do not need to be “scared straight” by visiting a state prison.

Perhaps it might be effective for troubled teens. Some states have programs that take troubled teens to prisons to be meet prisoners and see the reality of prison life. Are there follow-up studies that show whether the programs alter teen behavior? If they are effective, they should be run by agencies other than the public school system and used only for teens headed in the wrong direction.

gimli July 7, 2014 at 1:23 PM

For schools with high dropout rates, yes. 70% of inmates did not complete H.S. Obviously other socioeconomic factors weigh into this.

Pegasus July 7, 2014 at 1:25 PM

A big waste of time. Raise ’em right and most of the little buggers will turn out fine. If your kids turn out rotten it’s likely your fault.
A few will slip through the cracks anyway, no matter what you do. They deserve the all expense paid vacations from society.

Concordejet July 7, 2014 at 1:27 PM

The California Youth Authority used to have free tours of the instititutes once a year. Due to the budget, I am not sure if they are still giving tours of the CYA. I used to go there many times with my parents when I was a kid. I remember the CYAs in Stockton were giving tours before two fo the YAs were shut down. I know Karl Holton and Dewit Nelson are shut down the only two other YAs are still open are O.H. Close School and Chad School. Now, the Karl Holton had turn into a prison hospital and there 2000 beds in the prison hospital. The O.H. Close School and Chad School are about the same. It just that O.H. Close have smaller kids and the Chad School have tough boys there.

I had only visited two of the prisons. First, the San Quantin State Prison and finally the new prison in Central Valley at Coalinga. They are both scary enough.

If the school were to go on a field trip to the prison I would recommend just the CYA and it should be for high school students only. The CYA is scary enough but, not as scary as state prison.

dilligafman July 7, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Have them spend one night, that should teach them what side of the walls they want to stay on!!!

Sid July 7, 2014 at 1:32 PM

I looked it up. The research shows that “Scared Straight” programs are ineffective in deterring juvenile crime. In fact, they may have the opposite effect.

So I amend my answer to “no” for all teens, even the troubled ones. It doesn’t work.

JW July 7, 2014 at 1:34 PM

I think that it is a great idea. I am already working on my young kids to show them how ridiculous and pathetic crimnals are. A trip to the coroner as someone said might not be a bad idea for kids who just don’t get it. I wish that the state would invest in boot camp programs for kids in the justice system. Having a drill instructor in your face everyday for 12 weeks might really shape you up.

Anonymous July 7, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Scared Straight tried it. Made no difference. As effective as DARE.which is to say worthless.

Anonomous. July 7, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Mayhap schools should teach, I don’t know, reading and writing? Maybe throw in some math too.

Basel July 7, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Good idea for those at risk. They’ll be told they can’t wear blue – anywhere, no jeans or shirts blue in color, then they’ll be told, if they’re taken hostages, things can turn real bad. A walk down the cell block hall with all the yelling and catcalling is enough to redirect some toward. Girls should be taken to the female section of the prisons…just to experience where they’ll end up.

PH resident July 7, 2014 at 2:30 PM

No. It’s not necessary. Kids going down the wrong path should get mandatory military schooling.

Michelle July 7, 2014 at 2:35 PM

This should be optional, a decision for the parents and the child to make. This is a very good program for troubled teens that really need the help.

Don P - N. Concord July 7, 2014 at 2:39 PM

It’s already been proven that this doesn’t work. What it does do is teach the troubled kids how to act like real criminals so they can show off when they hangout with their friends.

Anon July 7, 2014 at 3:22 PM

I am thinking that during the field trip some kids are already so bad we could just leave them behind and not take them back home.

MadMom July 7, 2014 at 3:24 PM

When I was in high school, I took a field trip to Martinez jail with my law class. It made quite am impression on all of us. The women had it much better than the men, but none of us ever wanted to try out the accommodations. I close my eyes and I can still see what it looked like.

anonanonagain July 7, 2014 at 3:57 PM

I have missed feelings about this. It seems that some youth glorify and emulate the thug life and look at jail as a badge of honor. A stable family, community, involved parents and an education are the things that influence a young person’s life and how they will turn out……

Mimi (original) July 7, 2014 at 4:02 PM

Attending school in the Los Angeles Area we took a field trip to the local Men’s and Women’s jails. Girls went to Sybil Brand Institute, but I don’t remember where the boys went. I think we were in 10th grade and it scared the living dickens out of me, I have to tell you!! I think everyone student should visit some sort of detention facility, probably in 7th or 8th grade. I think it would have made a difference some young folk’s (who are no longer with us) lives.

Horse n around July 7, 2014 at 4:03 PM

What if they saw one of their parents in there? Can you imagine? ” Hi mom, Hi dad, just taking a little field trip with the school. ” LOL

ICameISawIConcord July 7, 2014 at 4:07 PM

State or Federal prison?…….Federal is a cake walk and would not deter anybody from anything.

Concord chumps July 7, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Yes, i think it is something every teen before they get to high school should experience at least once. By the time these kids reach high school, it is already too late. But take some of these so called wannabe gang bangers who are 11-13 years old and show what life is like in a jail cell.

I would even take it one step further – have a career prisoner in there talk to these kids about what it is really like in jail. How they dont get to take showers very often, share soap bars, get crappy food, beaten up, etc.

And to the fool who said that most kids don’t need this type of reality check – he/she needs to wake up and get with the times.

Rob July 7, 2014 at 5:08 PM

One of the biggest upsides and downsides to being a teenager is that you don’t think “whatever bad can happen” will happen to you…

So sure, take them on whatever field trip you want, but don’t expect it to impact many if any teenagers and their choices later on.

Sofa King July 7, 2014 at 6:15 PM

No, but a mandatory boot camp might straighten out the punky kids. Shaved heads, epithets and push-ups in the hail storm build character.

Atticus Thraxx July 7, 2014 at 7:07 PM

Fine. If their parents want to pay for the program, no skin off my soap.

Kelly Anne July 7, 2014 at 7:07 PM

How about we take them on an over nite field trip to Alcatraz. Lock them in a cell, hire some guards and make it as real as possible. Heck, make it a weekend field trip.

Jojo potato July 7, 2014 at 7:10 PM

My nine year old grandson wants to visit San Quentin. I think it would be great for him and me. Otherwise it’s just what he sees in the movies. Is there anyway to do that?

Kelly Anne July 7, 2014 at 7:42 PM

@jojopotato,u got a relative there? Then your in !

Antler July 7, 2014 at 9:23 PM

Waste of time and taxpayers’ money! And definitely should not be a mandatory format, even if approved by district. Children who would be impressed by that scene either already HAVE a conscience …..or else would be impressed for all the wrong reasons. Prison scenes are all over the news, on TV, and in films. NO !

Contra Costa County of Ignorance July 7, 2014 at 10:48 PM

In 1999, I thought it was a good idea to take “at risk” boys to San Quentin. With the school and parents permission, I took a group of 10 middle school boys to the Scared Straight, ie Squires program.

I don’t think the program had the effect I thought it would. Taking them to San Quentin glorified the path they were taking more than it deterred them.

In retrospect, I should have taken to boys to look at mansions in Blackhawks, and the wealthier surrounding areas. It would have been best, if for a few hours I would have taken them out of their environment and allowed them to dream and find something to positively motivate them.

old concord July 7, 2014 at 11:39 PM

Schools and parents have been teaching children with positive reinforcement . Do you want them to learn negative reinforcement ?

Annon July 8, 2014 at 5:09 AM

Most prisons have a ‘No Negotiation Clause’…so when sweet little
Johnny walks inside and the inmates decide to take over the prison.
The administration doesn’t have to do anything to get them back. It’s
considered part of the risk you take to enter the prison.

ForSomeNotAll July 8, 2014 at 6:47 AM

I don’t know….it seems like some kids believe that getting into trouble and being taken to juvenille hall makes them look cool and so a tour of prisons in a “Scared Straight” style would be a good idea for some kids but not for all. I think that doing volunteer work to help others would give kids a sense of empathy and perhaps make them want to make things better in the world and be a more positive force to help others. I’d probably opt for kids to work at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen to get them out of themselves so they can see the world differently. I think a summer program to take kids to a country where help is desperately needed with building houses, taking care of the little ones, helping the sick people and building infrastructure would make a difference too.

Big Fred July 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

In my graduating class not too long ago, there was maybe 2 kids that could have, not would have, but COULD HAVE, benefitted from this. So I believe it isn’t right to force all the other 400 students in that grade level to go as well and be subjected to the assumption that just because they are in public school, they are more likely to become criminals! Ridiculous.

Dr. Jellyfinger® July 8, 2014 at 9:39 PM

I had a gay nephew that I took to a prison wayyy down south for one of those “Scared Straight” tours. It didn’t fix ’em, he stayed gay. But a few days after the tour he robbed a bank & then just waited for the police. I give up on that boy!

Islandgirl July 9, 2014 at 11:33 AM

I am all for a program like this. Have the program available for the middle and high school age group kids that is heading down the wrong path. Along with this program the parents need to take a parenting class because something is missing at home base.

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