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Campers Take Field Trip to Jail So They Never Have to Go Back

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RALEIGH — The Wake County jail had some young visitors Thursday; the tour was part of an effort to keep the kids on the straight and narrow. From the looks on their faces, the trip was one they definitely do not want to repeat.

You could tell the group from Martin Street Baptist Church Camp was not looking forward to the field trip. Instead of a zoo or museum, they visited the Wake County jail "to show them what's going to happen if they don't stay away from crime," explains Chester Borden, of theWake County Sheriff's Office.

The sheriff's office has opened the jail doors to the public for the past eight years.

Kids are the most frequent visitors, 2,000 to 3,000 come each year. They come in groups or alone, at the request of a judge.

Parents have even used the free tours to set their kids straight.

Sheriff's officials say they can see the difference the long walk can make. Borden remembers one boy who stole from a store prior to the visit.

"When we finished the tour he was in tears," Borden says. "He went back to his mother and the officer said 'Tell your mother what you're going to do.' He said, 'Momma, I'm sorry. I'll never steal again,' hugged his mother and wouldn't let her go."

The field trip may not have been their first choice, but officials hope it will be the last time the kids see the inside of a jail.

The sheriff believes the tours also helps adults see the challenges his department faces, specifically overcrowding. The jail was built to house 480 inmates. About 700 inmates are housed there currently.


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