Pubdate: Fri, 22 Dec 2006
Source: Nevada Appeal (Carson City, NV)
Copyright: 2006 Nevada Appeal
Author: Theresa Duffy, Deputy
Bookmark: (Students - United States)
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


9:05 a.m. - Twenty students pile into a room that on any other day 
would be a math class. Instead of a teacher, the group is met by 
Chief Probation Officer Doug Swalm who gives a slide presentation 
showing the accouterments of mobile methamphetamine labs.

Swalm describes the procedure of how the drug is made and compares 
glass air freshener vials to actual glass meth pipes to show their 

"I think I have some of it somewhere on me," Swalm says as he 
produces a baggie with a small amount of white powder from his pocket 
and passes it to the students to get a firsthand look.

The first student takes a quick look and gives the baggie to the girl 
behind her who stashes it in her bag.

"Whoa - why did you do that?" says Swalm, who directs a deputy who is 
conveniently available at the back of the classroom to nab the girl 
who has taken the drug.

The girl is cuffed, walked to the back of the room and is patted down 
by Deputy Theresa Duffy, who tells her to spread her legs.

Half of the students keep their eyes on the continuing lesson but the 
rest take furtive glances to see what is happening to their classmate.

"That was kind of stupid," he said. "Does anyone know her? Why would 
she do that?"

"Because you told her to?" offers a student.

"What's going to happen to her?" said Swalm.

The class suggests she will go to juvenile hall, China Spring or 
Aurora Pines but in the next few minutes Swalm's question is answered 
as the prisoner and other 19 students are led to "detention" in the 
adjoining room.

Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School was the scene Tuesday of the Drug Store 
Project that was put together by the Partnership of Community 
Resources to educate youth about all aspects of drug use - from what 
constitutes drug abuse to the consequences to those who abuse them.

Seventh-graders participated in the project that used members of the 
sheriff's and juvenile probation offices, as well as members from the 
judicial, education and counseling community and parent volunteers.

During the program, students visited stations to learn about 
methamphetamine and what would happen if a juvenile is caught with 
drugs. There was a reenactment of a student caught "stealing" a 
baggie of methamphetamine, was cuffed, held in detention and attended 
court - complete with Judge Michael Gibbons and lawyers Kris Brown 
and Tod Young.

9:20 a.m. The detention room features a blond teenager slouching in a 
chair in a cell made of PVC. He is wearing prison duds of overlarge 
orange shirt, green pants and purple deck shoes. He looks 
sufficiently morose because this 21st century pillory is part of his 
probation. All that is missing is a sign around his neck declaring his crime.

The new prisoner, Chani, is being directed by Donna Tholl, supervisor 
at the Douglas County Detention Facility, to stick out her tongue, 
declare if she has any piercings, take her jacket and shoes off.

"If you have piercings or any jewelry that can't be removed, we'll 
remove it for you. We have pliers," said Tholl.

"You're stripped down. You do a squat and cough to make sure you 
didn't bring stuff with you. You're given a cold shower and 
everything personal is left at the door," she said.

At this point, Chani's fellow classmates don't show if they believe 
the ruse but the situation has definitely captured their attention.

After she is "processed" by Bruce Beauchamp from the Douglas County 
Juvenile Probation Office, Chani is put in the PVC cell with the boy 
on probation.

"This is very degrading," said Beauchamp. "(Juvenile detention) is 
just like the real thing. Most kids think that it's different from 
adults but it's not. You guys are no different than adults when it 
comes to this."

9:34 a.m. The next step for the prisoner Chani, who is now in the 
orange and green prison garb and trussed with a belt with her wrists 
attached by cuffs, is to attend court. She and her class proceed to 
other stations having to do with drug counseling, debriefing and post 
test. It eventually is shown that Chani and the other seven students 
who volunteered for the Drug Store Project didn't really steal drugs.

During the debriefing, the students' reactions after going through 
nearly two hours of stations was that they had heard almost 
everything on the subject of drug abuse already.

Even at the age of 13, the seventh-graders who participated in the 
Drug Store Project were veterans of the DARE, Drug Abuse Resistance 
Education, and GREAT, Gang Resistance Education and Training, programs.

Steven Campbell, 13, said the program could be helpful to some people.

"At first it seemed real," said Steven. "It was the handcuffs that 
gave it away. They were old handcuffs."

Raul Castaneda, 12, said that a student being arrested for stealing 
drugs from the classroom seemed real at first but doubted the student 
volunteers would be thought of as culprits.

"I didn't think they would do that - never, ever in their whole 
lives," said Raul.

Another student mentioned all the student volunteers were "goody-goodies."

"In one class they were teaching us how to make a pipe," said Raul.

"And how much meth to put in it," said Steven.

Some in the debriefing room expressed compassion for the "arrested" students.

"It made me feel bad for that person because I actually believed it."

"I was shocked. I believed it until the judge part."

"I believed it until I saw the jail cell made out of PVC."

And what would parents do if they found their children had been 
arrested for drugs?

"My mom would kill me."

"I'd be grounded for life."

"They'd be worried."

"I would be dead. A slow, painful death."

And would the next seventh-grade class benefit from the Drug Store Project?

A resounding, "Yes." 
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