Troubled Elmore Co. teens get wake up call from murderer - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Troubled Elmore Co. teens get wake up call from murderer

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ELMORE CO., AL (WSFA) -

It was a necessary wake up call for middle school students in Elmore County Friday. The Alabama Department of Corrections, along with the juvenile court system painted a picture of what a teen's life would be like if they continued to make bad decisions.

"They are comfortable with me, they are comfortable with their high school environment," said Wetumpka Middle School guidance counselor Jessica Williams. "We had to shake them up a little and show them these people and this place is real."

When the students were asked who knew someone in a gang, the vast majority raised their hands. Unfortunately, gangs, drugs and bullying are no stranger to even middle school students. 

It was a far too familiar scene for Blake Russell, who gave up a full baseball scholarship to go to prison. "The age they are now is the same age I was when I started make the decisions that ultimately effected the last 10-15 years of my life." 

The student's eyes were glued to the inmate from Kilby Prison who came to speak to them. A convict who was shackled and serving time for murder explained the choices he made at 12 that put him behind bars for the last 18 years.

Russell says today's event is a gift, because no one spoke life to him at an early age. The biggest frustration, knowing many of the students who need to hear today's message, simply weren't listening. "I know the road they are going to take.  The ones who are responding, I can see they need this.  But the ones who really need it block it out. And it's really the sad part of it."

Juvenile Judge, Patrick Pinkson said he welcomed the call from a local guidance counselor to work proactively to divert teens on a problematic path.

"By the time they get to me, so often the problems have already occurred. It's a bit of a frustration for me, and we had this opportunity to be proactive and get out in front of problems, and bring in experts to help these children and we jumped at it." 

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