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Luncheon for youngsters, Dougherty County Sheriff's Office participants from Beyond Scared Straight program

Event honors participants from recent television program filmed at Dougherty County Jail

Lt. Terron Hayes with the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office sits with the young men who were recently featured on A&E’s “Beyond Scared Straight” at a luncheon held at the Hilton Garden Inn on Monday. The luncheon was held to honor those who participated in the program. (Staff Photo: Jennifer Parks)

Lt. Terron Hayes with the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office sits with the young men who were recently featured on A&E’s “Beyond Scared Straight” at a luncheon held at the Hilton Garden Inn on Monday. The luncheon was held to honor those who participated in the program. (Staff Photo: Jennifer Parks)

ALBANY — Following up on the attention the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office received on Thursday evening when one of its youth intervention and prevention programs was featured on the A&E network’s “Beyond Scared Straight,” a luncheon was held at the Hilton Garden Inn on Monday to get all the individuals together involved in the program in one room and honor those who helped make it possible.

Unbeknownst to Dougherty Sheriff Kevin Sproul and Lt. Terron Hayes, who is with the department’s crime prevention unit and has had a primary role in mentoring the youth involved in its intervention programs, arrangements were made for the boys who appeared in the program last week to be dressed in their Sunday best, have fresh haircuts and arrive at the Hilton Monday in a limousine.

The boys took a seat with Hayes, lunch was served and awards were presented to various individuals involved, including those who helped them with their haircuts and attire, as well as those who provided the food at the luncheon.

Immediately following the show’s run, officials with the sheriff’s office said they were getting calls from as far away as Louisiana and South Carolina from parents interested in getting their children into the Beyond Scared Straight program at Dougherty — through which at-risk youth are placed in the jail and interact with the inmates as a way to give them a taste of what life is like behind bars.

Among the things Dougherty’s program in particular is known for is the follow-up conducted over the course of several months after children come out of the program.

“I told Lt. Hayes the most valuable thing is that you do not just take them and leave. You had to stay involved,” said Jada Bell, an officer with the crime prevention unit at the sheriff’s office.

Sproul, who has become known for his involvement in youth outreach, explained Monday how he get so deeply involved after being motivated by a sheriff’s deputy in the department in the mid-1990s to stand up and do something different.

At least to some extent, his faith also inspired him to give effort to the cause.

“I wanted to learn about people and why they would commit crimes,” he said.

He then said a few words to the boys.

“I’m honored to have met you and crossed paths with you,” the sheriff said. ” … There are those outside these four walls that want to tear you down, but remember, we all have a separate set of fingerprints. We can all make a difference.”

Hayes took the podium next.

“What you saw on TV we’ve been doing for three-and-a-half years, and the sheriff has been doing it for 15 years. It just so happened that the cameras were here,” he said.

“It will take consistent intervention (to make a long term difference). I’m only one person. If everyone in the community can wrap their arms around these young men … I don’t have boys; I consider you my sons. I want to see you do well in life.”

This was followed by remarks from a few of the boys as well as their parents giving appreciation for the difference the program has made for them. The boys featured on Thursday evening went through the program in June.

Additional footage was taken by A&E several weeks ago, which is expected to be used after the first of the year, Sproul said.