FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Tracey Z. Poole, RIDOC Media Relations (401) 462-2609 Michael Healey, Attorney General’s Office Media Relations (401) 274-4400, ext. 2234
CRANSTON, R.I. – May 16, 20008 – About 20 Rhode Island high schools and over 1,500 students will have heard the sobering message of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections and Attorney Generals Office-sponsored Zero Fatalities Project by the close of this spring’s prom and graduation season. The program has been covered extensively by the press and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Plans are underway to continue offering presentations throughout the summer and the 2008/2009 school year.
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. In late April, a letter signed by Corrections Director A.T. Wall II and Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch went to high school principals in the state inviting their schools’ participation in the program. The initiative involves busing students from schools across the state to the John J. Moran Medium Security facility at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) to attend panel sessions of 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. A victim family member has also been invited to participate in each session to speak about the devastating consequences these crashes have upon those left whose loved ones are killed or permanently injured.
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 200 at a time, have been scheduled on Wednesday – Friday mornings throughout the month of May. Some May slots are still available. Evening sessions will also be scheduled for interested parent and community groups from around the state. Wednesday morning sessions will be scheduled through the summer on a weekly or bi-weekly basis depending upon demand, and groups interested in booking for the fall are also invited to call or e-mail Tracey Z. Poole, Chief of Information and Public Relations at the RIDOC, at (401) 462-2609, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reimbursement for transportation to and from the ACI for schools requesting it is available through an agreement with the Department of Transportation. Those schools requesting reimbursement must submit bus receipt along with completed evaluations from the session. Parental permissions for students are the responsibility of the schools. The model for the presentation is similar to that of the long-running Special Community Outreach Education (S.C.O.R.E.) Program administered through the RI Family Court under the auspices of the RIDOC, with some differences. The focus is on DUI- and reckless driving-related offenses, Assistant Attorney General Jay Sullivan gives an overview presentation, and a victim or relative or friend of a victim participates in the panels as well. Students have the opportunity to ask questions of all participants.