By KIM GRIZZARD, The Daily Reflector

GREENVILLE, N.C. — In a waiting area just inside the Pitt County Detention Center, Latisha Harris sat and prayed for her children.

There is no doubt that other mothers have been in the same seat, crying out for the sons or daughters they had come to see. But Harris had no reason for tears; her loved ones had not been given time behind bars. Instead, daughter Ahmiya, 13, and son Tyrece, 17, took time on a Saturday to be here.

The two were among more than a dozen teens who voluntarily stepped inside the detention center as part of the local Youth Incarceration Prevention Program. The program, an outreach ministry of St. John Missionary Baptist Church Soul Saving Center, is based on the idea that education and early intervention are two keys to keeping youth out of prison.

“(We want to) educate the younger people to show them that you don’t have to end up in here,” said St. John member Eddie Godley, a volunteer who directs the effort. “(We wanted) some kind of program that could help them, tell them that jail is not the answer. Being cool is not going to jail. Being cool is not walking around with your pants hanging half-way down.

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