Thousands of high school and middle school students from across the state have come to prison – not as inmates, but as visitors to the Special Community Outreach Education (SCORE) Program and the DUI-focused Zero Fatalities Project presentation. Both programs are designed with public safety and awareness in mind and engage student and community groups through a panel presentation by inmates who discuss their poor choices and their resulting life behind bars. Reservations are being accepted for both throughout the year and the Department invites your interest and attendance.
The SCORE Program was established by the Rhode Island Department of Corrections many years ago in partnership with the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers and the Rhode Island Family Court. Scheduling for it is now managed through the RIDOC’s Information and Public Relations Office. It is held in the John J. Moran Medium Security Facility, the men’s Maximum Security Facility, and the Dorothea Dix Women’s Minimum Security Facility. During the 2009-2010 academic year, SCORE was attended by 26 groups from 14 different cities and towns and almost 1,900 individuals. Middle school, high school, and sometimes college students hear from a panel of inmates serving for a variety of crimes including murder, robbery, and drug offenses. Panelists talk candidly about the negative behaviors that led to their incarceration and what their life is like behind prison walls. They address such topics as peer pressure, gangs, bullying, truancy, and respect of authority figures. Correctional Officers also speak about their role and the situations they encounter on the job.
Over 4,300 people from 40 different schools and organizations across the state have heard the sobering message of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections and Attorney General’s Office-sponsored Zero Fatalities Project since it was launched during prom and graduation season in 2008. Co-led by Assistant Attorney General Jay Sullivan and RIDOC’s Chief of Information and Public Relations Tracey Zeckhausen, The Zero Fatalities Project is a public safety initiative aimed at raising awareness of the devastating consequences of underage drinking and driving and reckless driving.
Audiences gather in the Visiting Room of the John J. Moran Medium Security Facility for a panel session featuring pre-selected inmates doing long sentences for DUI- and reckless driving-related offenses. The panelists speak candidly about their crimes, the effects of their poor choices, and their incarceration. Victim family members speak about the devastating consequences these crashes have upon those whose loved ones are killed or permanently injured. A slide presentation titled “Choices” includes photos from the actual crash scenes and statistics on DUI-related fatalities in Rhode Island. Guests have the opportunity to ask questions of all speakers.
The Zero Fatalities Project is a collaborative effort involving many agencies with an interest in this critical statewide issue. In addition to the Attorney General’s Office and the Corrections Department, partners include the RI Family Court, the RI Police Chiefs Association, the RI State Police, MADD-RI, and the RI Department of Transportation.
Zero Fatalities Project panels, which can accommodate groups of up to 100 at a time, are available on Wednesday mornings, beginning at 9 a.m. Reimbursement for transportation to and from the ACI for schools requesting it is available through an agreement with the Department of Transportation and corporate and private donors. Those schools requesting reimbursement must submit bus receipts along with completed evaluations from the session. Parental permissions for students are the responsibility of the schools.
SCORE visits can be booked on Thursday or Friday from 9 a.m. – noon in the John J. Moran Medium Security Facility, on Thursdays from 9 a.m. – noon in the Maximum Security Facility, or on Fridays from 9 a.m. – noon in the Dorothea Dix Women’s Minimum Security Facility. The Department has a “one event per week per facility” rule so groups are encouraged to book well in advance.
For more information or to book a session for the SCORE Program or the Zero Fatalities Project, please contact Tracey Zeckhausen, Chief of Information and Public Relations, at (401) 462-2609 or via email at email@example.com. Information on the programs is also available on the Department’s website at www.doc.ri.gov under Media and Community Relations.