CORUNNA, Michigan (WJRT) - (11/30/2017) - "We didn't want to target kids that have already been in trouble , we're looking at kids before they got in trouble," said Sheriff Brian BeGole.
A program that gives young people, who have never been in trouble with the law, an "Inside View" of life-behind-bars is being re-vived in Shiawassee County.
The goal? To keep youth out of the slammer and away from a life of crime.
We accompanied a group of teens inside the jail where they heard from inmates who wished they had listened to those who wanted the best for them earlier in life.
Imagine using a communal toilet --living, eating, and sleeping in a four-man cell with no privacy.
"You don't get much freedom, the air smells really bad, it's kind of scary, you don't want to be in there, you don't have any privacy," said Cooper Smith, a high school freshman.
Good behavior for inmates means an hour in the rec room, with one TV, a ping pong table, and one piece of workout equipment.
27-year old Greg Kopicko-Jones says a series of bad decisions landed him in the County jail.. He's awaiting sentencing for home invasion.
"You have to come to the realization like this is my fault, you have to take responsibility for for the things that you do," he said.
"I wish I had allowed myself to be influenced by more positive people," he added.
Inmates are only allowed one 20-minute visit per week --the limited contact with family and loved ones really hit 14-year old Macy BeGole hard.
"When the inmates were talking about how they couldn't see their families, that's horrible, I couldn't go through that," she said.
BeGole says the memory of what she experienced will stay with her.
"I'm hoping juveniles can really see what it's like to be in jail," said Lt. Tamie Willson, "their freedom, their privleges, everything is different in here."
Over the past seven years, the percentage of offenders in the state ages 19-and-under being incarcerated for the first time has nearly doubled.
One of the goals of "Inside View" is reach kids before they get into trouble.
"This is about making choices, to make the right choices, bad decisions cad lead to bad things," said Sheriff BeGole.
Sheriff BeGole says the program will be offered at least once a month on a request basis, and may also work with kids who have had contact with Probate Court.