speak to students
To make students think about positive actions many schools are encouraging guest speakers to come and share their life experiences. On Friday, May 23, inmates from North Idaho Correctional Institute spoke to the 8th grade students at Prairie Middle School. The inmates came to share stories of their life decisions that lead them to their incarceration.
The NICI inmates described how their poor decisions started around 8th grade. This is one reason why Prairie Middle School annually targets the 8th grade class. The inmates told how their decisions began with giving into peer pressure such as participating in activities that involved tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. The most crucial message that the inmates made to the students can be best described in the actual words from an inmate, “The decisions you make today, will shape your future tomorrow. As 8th graders you think in the now but we are here to tell you there is a bigger world out there and you need to recognize the warning signs of a destructive/addictive path.”
The 8th graders learned that prison is a life changing event that makes a person reflect on their decisions. Several inmates stressed that every decision has either a positive or a negative consequence. Some decisions make you forfeit jobs, family contact, or freedom. The toughest part of being incarcerated is losing contact with family members stated by all the inmates. Some talked about the freedoms they give up including when and where to eat and sleep. On inmate stated, “In prison they control your life, they tell you when to eat, sleep, work and march. You, as civilians, can go and do as you please, in prison or on probation we have to ask permission to do the most ordinary things. We cannot leave town, own or be near any weapons, have fishing or hunting licenses. We have to be ready at a second notice for our probation officer to check on us. We lost control of our lives and now someone else is in control of it for us”.
The students from Prairie Middle School took away many impressions from the inmates. One student said, “I did not know that they are required to take classes and get their GED. I liked the idea that they have parenting and finance classes up there to help them adjust when they get released.” Another student declared, “I was impressed with their courage to tell their stories to us and how honest they were about prison life.”
Through the positive influences and support of the programs, counselors, and correctional officers at NICI the inmates benefit from these candid discussions with the students as they encourage kids to not make the same mistakes as they once made.