Missouri Considering Bill Requiring Field Trip to Correctional Center

February 6, 2007--Posted at 6:45 p.m. CST

DUNKLIN COUNTY, MO--It's a field trip like most students have never experienced. A new bill in the Missouri House could make it a requirement for all ninth grade students to tour a state correctional facility before moving on to tenth grade.

When it comes to the correctional system in Missouri, some students like Senath Hornersville High School student Ariel Sparks are unsure how it works.

"I don't really know that much about it, but I know it is not good," said Sparks.

Others like Skyler Droke know a little bit more.

"I never been to one, but I have seen 20 20 and seen interviews they did on there and I know it isn't a very good place," said Droke.

Then there are a select few like Lindsay Atchison who have first hand knowledge.

"I know that the conditions are not very good. I have seen the inside of the Kennett Correctional Facility and it's not a place I want to be," said Atchison.

She says she visits a family member regularly at the Dunklin County Detention Center and says those trips have impacted her life.

"I think it was a very positive experience, because it affects the decisions I make every single day," said Atchison.

If a proposed bill in the Missouri House passes, it's an experience all ninth grade public school students will be required to have.

"It would let students see how it is and how it helps them and make students think I don't want to be there and I don't want to go through that," said Sparks.

If this bill passes, it wouldn't actually go through until the 2009-2010 school year.

Schools feel while they can teach students all day what not to do, having them be able to see the potential consequences will really hit home and score that point.

"You tell them all you want, but experience is the best teacher. If they can see people who went through that then it changes their whole outlook on things," said Kem Campbell Senath Hornersville High School Principal.

Campbell believes the experience would prove to be especially helpful for students who are walking the line.

Students feel this new policy is long overdue.

"I think they should start taking kids younger than that, because kids now days are getting worse," said Droke.

It's a policy that the state of Missouri is serious about to the extent that superintendents, principals and teachers who fail to observe and carry out the requirements of this act could be subject to being fired.

The bill must go through both houses before becoming a law.