Scared straight program meant to help probationers - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Scared straight program meant to help probationers

This is the first time the meeting was held at a mortuary. This is the first time the meeting was held at a mortuary.
The casket did not contain a body, but rather photographs of guns. The casket did not contain a body, but rather photographs of guns.
The meeting took place just hours after murder victim Thomas School field was discovered. The meeting took place just hours after murder victim Thomas School field was discovered.

Richard Essex/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - In the middle of the day a usually quiet south side neighborhood is shaken to reality. At 1370 S. Sheffield, behind the police tape, police officers and crime lab technicians, lies the body of 61-year-old Thomas Schoolfield. He is found on the floor next to his wheelchair.

One bystander lamented, "You know, he couldn't bother no body. He was in a wheelchair, a V. A. veteran."

Police say he was stabbed several times. An anonymous caller tipped police to the house. Police would like to make contact with the caller again.

This is the side of crime many of us have grown too accustomed to seeing: the crime scene, then the funeral home. A close look at a casket inside the Stuart Mortuary on the North Illinois fails to turn up a body. Instead, it contains photographs of hand guns. The people in the chairs are not here to mourn, but to be warned.

One of those gathered described a funeral. It was the funeral for her victim. "My victim, at his funeral, had 500 people, more than 500 people at his funeral."

This a scared straight program for adults, what the probation office calls a "lever pull." The lever pull is really "pushing the buttons" of some 20 probationers.

Most of these guys had to show up at the mortuary meeting as one condition of their probation. One recounted, "I was high on drugs," when the crime he was convicted of took place. The group of 20 hears from those convicted and those who were victims.

The hope is that they leave with a newfound understanding of crime and its impact and a newfound determination to stay out of trouble. The meeting seemed to have the intended result on this probationer who said, "Yes, it's a lot more intense than I expected it to be."

These "lever pull" meetings have been a mainstay for the probation department for sometime. This was the first to be held at a funeral home.

Will it be successful? Statistics do not favor the probationers.

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