A Program for Youth

lifechoicespicThe New River Valley Regional Jail is committed to proudly serving the citizens of the New River Valley and its surrounding localities. Although our mission is to safely house those who have been charged with or convicted of crimes throughout the region, it is our goal to reach out beyond the concrete and steel walls of the facility and establish a relationship with our communities that affects positive change for our future generations. The future of public safety rests firmly in the hands of our youth!

In November, 2014 the New River Valley Regional Jail established The Life Choices Initiative Program. This Program was established with the intention of demonstrating to adolescents the power of making positive choices both now and throughout the remainder of their lives; choices that will hopefully lead them away from a path of destruction and incarceration! Our Program is NOT a traditional “scared straight” program.

The Life Choices Initiative Program is offered to 7th grade students in area elementary and middle schools. Students are brought to the Jail on a “field trip” and are afforded the opportunity to briefly experience a day in the life of an inmate. Jail staff take the students through a typical day from the perspective of an inmate. Students are exposed to situations such as being searched (metal detector), locked in cells, fed and supervised in a direct supervision environment. They learn the rules inmates are expected to abide by and are spoken to in a firm and direct manner by staff.

An integral part of the program consists of discussions with the students about topics such as self-esteem, bullying, goal setting and a positive mental attitude. Students are provided examples of the positive impacts accompanied with choosing the right role models and the counterproductive effects of choosing poorly. They are provided examples in the form of a Power Point presentation that discusses current events and famous persons who have overcome adversity to excel in their chosen professions. To cap off the event, an inmate is allowed to come in and speak with the students. The inmate speaks directly to the students about his/her poor choices and the effects they have had on their lives. This, without a doubt, is the most profound and important aspect of the Program. Students get to hear and see firsthand how devastating poor choices can be and how the consumption of alcohol and drugs and negative peer pressure can ruin one’s life.

If you would like more information about The Life Choices Initiative Program please feel free to contact me or one of the other program leaders. I have included a brochure that gives a brief overview of the material we cover and contact information for each of us. Although the Program is relatively new in its existence we have had nothing but positive feedback from the students and adults who have participated. We would be happy to share those comments directly with you if you like.

Gerald McPeak, Former Superintendent
New River Valley Regional Jail