S.C. inmates to share accounts of ‘street life’ to Orangeburg youth

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The powerful lure of gang life and pressure to participate in illegal activities may be challenging for some South Carolina youth to resist. It has been proven that positive influences and personal stories from former and current gang members and convicted felons may just keep troubled youth from disappointing family members, going to jail or worse – an early death.

To help prevent Orangeburg area teens from making unhealthy and harmful decisions, the Orangeburg City Department of Public Safety will join the SC State University Campus Police to present the 2013 Gang Prevention and Intervention Summit. The event will be held Thursday, Nov. 21 from 9 a.m. – noon in the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center on the SC State campus.

More than 1400 students from Orangeburg Consolidated School Districts Three, Four and Five, as well as students from Felton Laboratory School, located on the university’s campus, are expected to be in attendance.

The students will hear from a number of speakers who will encourage them to make positive lifestyle choices. Sgt. Gerald Walls, an investigator with the Richland County Gang Unit, will serve as the event’s keynote speaker. Popular radio host and community affairs personality Curtis Wilson, who also works as a public information officer for Richland County Sheriff’s Department, will speak at the event. Michelle Rice, instructor and trainer at the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy, will share her experience as a gang investigator.

Adding to the lineup of speakers will be inmates who are participants in the S.C. Department of Corrections’ crime prevention/public awareness program, Operation Get Smart. The carefully screened team of inmates will give personal stories of their involvement in crime and the consequences of criminal behavior. The ‘real talk’ from persons who have first-hand experiences in engaging in illegal activities will give the students a perspective on what could possibly happen if they choose to  make poor decisions that have the potential to lead to criminal behavior and prison sentences.

Organizers of the event have also scheduled an array of entertainment provided by SC State student organizations. The SC State Drum line, university cheerleaders and Champagne dancers will perform. The Henderson-Davis Players, the in-house theatrical studio, will present a gang prevention skit.

For more information on the 2013 Gang Prevention and Intervention Summit, contact Andrea S. Milford-Williams, project director, at (803) 536-8358