BELLEVILLE, IL (KTVI)-- Several teens were taken into custody by St. Clair County Sheriff`s Deputies. But, they were not under arrest. They spent a day in the life of a Lindenwood University criminal-justice student.
"Didn`t I tell you last time, you spending the night with me with you come back!" an inmate in the county jail screamed at a young kid while others cursed at teens through bullet-proof glass. That was in early 2013. That was also in the county`s Scared Straight program, which has been featured on A&E`s 'Beyond Scared Straight'.
Thursday, several more kids packed into a St. Clair County Jail van. They were also on the way to the program. But this time, the 13 and 14-year-olds met Sheriff Richard Watson at Lindenwood University. He led them in an oath.
"I will donate my time to `Scared Straight Goes to College`."
The same sheriff`s deputies, who patted down and detained young lawbreakers, stood by. But on this day, they watched teens sit in a lecture by a biology professor. Kids learned how to take fingerprints from evidence technicians. The youngsters even hung out at the campus athletic complex. It was a refreshing day for 14-year-old Zach Bateman, who said he used to flunk every class.
"I was struggling because I didn`t care about my grades," he admitted. "I just wanted to play around."
He was never featured in an on-air episode. But, he saw the kids who were.
"It was kind of rough, because I didn`t want to be like them," he said.
Thirteen-year-old Kyle Schreckenberg says he is only getting C`s in his classes. Sheriff Watson, Shreckenberg's grandfather, offered a day in the life of a college student.
"He was just telling me that they were going to have this going on," Shreckenberg said. "And, it was going to be a lot of fun."
Watson is quick to give the cold and hard facts about a life of crime to wayward kids. But, he was excited to demystify college for ambitious teens.
"That`s what we`re here for, too," he said. "We want to take some of these kids that were marginal. Now, we`re bringing them back trying to show, `This is the new life we want you to lead.`"
Zach Gateman seems to be leading that life. He said the program, and a push from his mom, put him on the honor roll.
"I know I can be here, instead of the in the jail."
To learn more about the Scared Straight Goes to Jail and the Scared Straight Goes to College programs, just go to http://www.thebadge.us/the_badge/contact-scared-straight.html.
Lindenwood also has several youth programs ready for the summer. Just visit http://www.lindenwood.edu/academics/youthPrograms.html
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