Volunteers Educate Teens on Prison Life

Shane Ahlo
Shane Ahlo
Al Bright
Al Bright

HONOLULU (KHNL) - For even the toughest, troubled teenagers, life behind prison bars is still a mystery.

But volunteers with the State Department of Public Safety are trying to enlighten island teens by helping them realize prison life is no joke.

Deep inside the Oahu Community Correctional Center, school is in session.

It's an advanced course on the roughest side of life.

''1991, my first crime, I was high on ice," explains 40-year old prison inmate, Shane Ahlo. "I was going kill my own wife."

Convicts share their stories, holding nothing back.

Prison guards are here in full uniform, off the clock, to make sure the message is received.

''That's why it's important for us, even as a volunteer, to make sure that we can get the point across to them that jail is not a happy place to be," says correctional officer Al Bright.

The "Student Future Awareness Program" aims to educate -- not scare.

Prison officials know those old "Scared Straight" tactics don't work.

But, this does.

And you can tell.

These troubled teens from the "Kalihi YMCA Outreach Program" are dead silent during the lecture.

"I used to use a toothbrush this small," says Ahlo, while he holds his figures about an inch apart. ''I used to use a shaver this small and toilet paper, each and every day was this much. That's all I had for the day," continues Ahlo, not changing the space between his fingers.

For these teens, it's not a field trip.

It's a lesson showing what really happens, when you make that "One Big Mistake."

''If we could save one kid from coming to jail, or off drugs, or even death, then we've succeeded," says Bright.