HCSO plans to lock teens up to keep them out of jail in the future

Deputies to visit Richland County to observe juvenile "S.O.A.R." program

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A new Horry County Sheriff's Office program will lock teenagers in jail overnight in an effort to convince them to stay out of situations that could land them there much longer.

"Hopefully it will scare them enough that they don't ever want to be back there," HCSO Sgt. Robert Butler said.

HCSO has been talking about the program for the past few years. It's called SOAR, which stands for 'Succeed, Overcome, Achieve and Reeducate.'

Between four and six teenagers from the ages of 12 and 16 will head to J. Reuben Long with their parents' permission then get carted off to the Horry County Judicial Center.

"Take all of their personal items from them. Dress them out in a jumpsuit. Assign them a cell," Sgt. Butler said.

Then, they'll have to do lots of physical exercise to physically and mentally exhaust the teenagers then give them a lift right when they need it.

"We want to ensure that the proper guidance is actually taking place," Sgt. Butler said. "We want to make sure we catch them at the right time when they start to break down, we can start building them back up."

Counselors, police officers and other mentors will be on hand to talk to the teenagers and create action plans to help them stay out of jail for the rest of their lives. The entire experience will last 12 hours.

15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson has seen more cases involving young people come across his desk recently. He's hoping this program will change that.

"This is just one night, maybe an uncomfortable night," Richardson said. "It may make the difference for them not having to sit in jail for 15 to 18 years."

While their children are in jail, parents will be required to participate in a two hour workshop to develop their own skills as parents and help their children stay out of trouble.

Sheriff's deputies plan to go to Richland County this Friday to observe a similar 12 hour program. They hope to start SOAR locally in the next couple of months.

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