Proposed bill would require students tour prisons
By: CJ Cassidy
By: CJ Cassidy
We've all heard of programs like "Scared Straight" that give young offenders a glimpse into prison life.
Now Missouri Senator Tim Green proposes a law requiring all ninth graders to take a prison tour.
If Senate Bill 189 passes, it would be up to school leaders to make sure students comply.
Anyone who doesn't could get fired.
Senator Green says he wants to ensure more funding for education, rather than prisons.
He hopes students would realize just how bad going to prison can be, if they get an up close and personal look.
Hannah Seesing is only 14-years-old and says adjusting to life in high school has been tough. So a mandatory prison tour would be nothing more than an added complication.
If the bill passes, showing up to school everyday and doing well in class wouldn't be enough to pass ninth grade. Students would also have to go through the doors of a state prison.
Seesing's mother, Elizabeth, shudders at the thought of her young daughter coming in close proximity with inmates of any kind.
"Our goal as parents is to keep children out of prison. We don't want to send them there even if it is just to look," she says.
"Most kids would treat it as a joke. They would not want to take anything away from it," Hannah says.
Central High School Principal Mike Cowan agrees with Hannah.
"We have to understand that 95% of our kids do exactly what they're told 95% of the time. To take that 95% out of meaningful classroom instruction, and take them on some superfluous tour of some correctional facility is just absurd," he says.
Senator Green says he's open to discussion, and would consider modifying the bill -using it as a deterrant towards high risk students.
It's an idea Hannah Seesing supports.
"Not everybody's going to end up like that. They should show people going down that path a prison. Not everyone needs to see one," Hannah says.
Senator Green says 14 to 15 year olds are easily influenced, and that's the reason he chose ninth graders.
He says he proposes holding school leaders accountable to ensure the bill gets attention.