Sheriff opens jail for troubled youth

Published 12:01 am Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sheriff Dennis Meeks is working with parents of troubled youth to help curb future issues.

Meeks said he’s worked with parents who have a problem with their middle school or early high school-aged children by giving them tours of the Covington County Jail.

“First thing is that we have to have parents’ permission,” he said. “But usually, the parents come with them on the tour.”

Meeks said he tries to be present for each of the tours.

“We start by going through the front door and into the booking room,” the sheriff said.

Meeks recalled one young man, who due to the atmosphere in the booking room, said he didn’t have to go any farther.

“For emotional reasons, that’s as far as we went,” he said. “I didn’t want to scare him because that isn’t what it’s about.”

For most tours, most others go through booking and into the pod, where they get to see cells.

“They get to see the environment they would be in, if they continue on the path they are on,” Meeks said.

Meeks said the inmates do an excellent job talking to the juveniles about serving time.

“The inmates – they are inmates for a reason, but for the most part, they want to keep kids out of jail,” he said. “They help deter them from coming.”

Meeks said inmates talk to the teens about serving time.

“They tell them, they don’t want to come to jail,” he said. “They explain how they are stuck in there every day and how they have lost their freedom.”