Want to know what life is like in jail, in prison?
Some residents, including youngsters, will get a good idea on Saturday when they listen to a group of inmates talk about the mistakes they made and their lives behind bars.
It’s called “Real Talk,” and it will be the fourth in the series. It’s scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. at the West Carrollton Recreation Center.
“They all have been extremely successful,” said Carrollton City Councilman Gerald Byrd. “We will be giving out prizes to encourage turnout but also we will be feeding all of the participants.”
Byrd said the city holds Real Talk to let the youth and community hear the stories of inmates who live their lives in prison.
“All I want is for our youth to think before they act,” he said. “I pray that we can plant a seed in them to do that. Local businesses have helped chip in with the event and donated bicycles and video games to give away.”
Byrd hopes to have between 100 to 200 people attend.
“This is able to happen because of the hard work of many people from the county to the city,” Byrd said. “Complete cooperation from the sheriff’s office and detention center here in town also makes it possible.”
Byrd said those attending can expect lots of tears and stories he hopes will have a positive impact.
“With everyone that helps make this happen, it is because we all share the same interest in lowering juvenile crime and causing our youth to think before they act,” said Byrd. “They have so much to live for and one act can change their life forever.”
Carrollton Police Chief Joel Richards said the name of the event changes each year but it is still a program for the youth to earn what it is like behind bars and what will make them end up there.
“We will have four inmates tell their stories but we will also have people talk about what it is like to come from the projects and still be successful,” he said. “Each year we want different stories; all walks of life. They need to hear the bad decisions that made the inmates end up where they are.”
Richards said attendees can expect to hear from one inmate who never had a record before landing in jail.
“He was a security guard, in fact, and his family adopted a little girl,” he said. “He found out that she was molested and he went and killed the man. He lost his family over that one stupid decision. This is where the youth and community understand that their decisions have consequences.”
Richards said that Byrd is the reason the program continues each year because he is the one that has come to the police department to ask about making it happen.
“We do it hand in hand but honestly he makes this a success,” said Richards. “Only God knows how many youth have been kept from prison but we continue to do this because it is the right thing to do for the next generation. We need to let them know that this is real and these inmates, when they were young, never thought that they would end up in prison for the rest of their life, just like many of us think.”