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      Juvenile offenders grow garden for crime victims

      When you think gardens, you might think peace.

      Junior offenders residing at the Department of Juvenile Justice worked to create a Memory Garden in the honor of victims of crime in South Carolina.

      The garden, unveiled at a press conference Monday, surrounds the complex's Bill Rodgers Community Connection Center. But part of growing the garden is teaching the inmates themselves to grow.

      Kaelin is an inmate at the facility. He worked on the garden and considers it a way to pay tribute while working towards his reformation.

      "It gives me serenity to know that I can give back to my victims. If I can't give them anything else, I can give this garden to them. "

      "What we learn from our mistakes is what gives us maturity, says Dale M. Wells, a survivor of domestic violence who spoke on forgiveness and choices.

      Demarkus, another resident of the D.J.J., reflects on what working on the garden has done for him.

      "Now that I've had a chance to help my community and help others, it makes me feel like I just want to do it more often, he says.

      "Not only is this work therapeutic," says DJJ Chief of Staff Margaret Barber, "but it is also a wonderful means of mentoring young people."

      The Department of Juvenile Justice runs a statewide victim services program to assist those who may have been affected by a crime. Their toll free number is 1-888-224-6165.