Volunteer inmates discuss their behavior as young men and how their poor choices eventually landed them in prison.

Volunteer inmates discuss their behavior as young men and how their poor choices eventually landed them in prison.

By Lt. Matthew Osborn, AA/Public Information Officer
Valley State Prison

Madera County young men ranging in age from 13 to 17 were given a taste of prison life thanks to Valley State Prison’s first Youth Diversionary Program.

The  program is designed for at-risk young men to see the realities of prison and the consequences of the choices they make.

Touring the facility

The groups of 14 young men toured the prison dining room, medical clinic, recreation yard, work changes and housing unit. After the tour, each volunteer inmate introduced themselves.

The volunteer inmates discussed what their behavior was like and choices they made when they were the ages of the young men. Each inmate spoke how their behavior and choices affected all aspects of life.

Inmates share cautionary tales

Prior to taking part in the Youth Diversionary Program, each volunteer inmate received training in youth suicide prevention, drug addiction, conflict resolution, family unification, active listening and public speaking.

The young men and the inmates then broke into a series of workshops discussing the behaviors of the young men and what they can do to better themselves.

The individual groups are designed to help the young men realize the consequences of their actions and help them see better choices they could be making.

Transformation

At the conclusion of the program, the young men were offered an opportunity to speak. Each young man said they were glad they attended.

Several young men said the program opened their eyes to the consequences of their behavior and how their behavior affects everyone around them.

The young men received a certificate of completion and Warden Ron Davis addressed the gathering.

Warden Davis emphasized the importance of making good decisions, education and family.

For the volunteer inmates, the program represents growth in their own rehabilitation.

Those affiliated with the program said it was amazing to see the transformation of the young hardcore men back into boys willing to change.

Volunteer inmates work with at-risk teens during a workshop.

Volunteer inmates work with at-risk teens during a workshop.

More on at-risk youth:

CDCR Conference seeks to educate youth about choices, consequences, http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2014/10/choices-consequences-taught-to-youth-at-cdcr-conference/

At-risk youth learn the power of choicehttp://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2012/10/cdcr-sponsored-childrens-conference-offers-fun-sobering-reality-of-the-power-of-choice-2/

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