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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Julie L. Jones

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary

For Immediate Release
February 17, 2000
For More Information
Contact: Lee Berger, (850) 410-4251
or Marc Bowerman, (850) 410-4247

Lifers at Sumter Correctional Institution
Reach out to Juvenile Offenders

Video Press Release
Available Friday, 18 February 2000 at 2:00 - 2:15 p.m. EST

Feed is two (2) complete packages with extra interviews and cover.
Scripts to follow.
Satellite Coordinates: C-Band Telstar 6 Transponder 7

BUSHNELL - Inmates at Sumter Correctional Institution have formed a group that promotes rehabilitation by helping juvenile offenders learn about the long-term consequences of crime.

Currently sponsored by Capt. G. A. Merritt at Sumter C.I., the Captain J. A. Shultz Memorial Lifers' Group receives a total of $1,000 per year from a grant for inmate programs. Members of the group must maintain a clean disciplinary record in prison and demonstrate a desire to change. The group was formed 7 years ago when several inmates approached Capt. Shultz about creating an organization to promote positive change among offenders. With the informal assistance of correctional officers, PRIDE (Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises), and an inmate board elected and governed by the offenders themselves, they began courses and an inmate organization whose main purpose is to provide a positive influence for those around them.

One of the goals of the group is to help turn juvenile offenders away from a life of crime. With the help of some dedicated correctional officers, the group began a Youth Awareness Tour program. Young criminals, who are one offense away from a state prison sentence, participate in the program. The tour is one of the requirements of participants' court-ordered sentences. It allows juvenile offenders to see what they will face if sent to an adult prison.

The Youth Awareness Tour presents the reality of what the average inmate faces behind prison walls and is based on the concept of tough love. The loss of freedoms that children enjoy on a daily basis and often take for granted, such as calling friends anytime or simply going down to the corner, have the strongest impact on participants. The program is aimed at young offenders who often believe they are invincible. Judges, lawyers, and a variety of professional speakers assist inmates with their presentations. Each tour is custom-designed to fit its participants, so that the inmates connect with the juvenile offenders and have the greatest possible impact on their lives. The group's goal and motto is to change the future, one child at a time.

For more information on the Captain J. A. Shultz Lifers' Group or the Youth Awareness Tour, please contact Warden Dave Lehr, Captain G. A. Merritt, or Officer L. Hooten at:

Sumter Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 667
Bushnell, Florida 33513
(352) 793-2525

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