A Scared Straight program is a juvenile crime-deterrent program in which at-risk minors visit adult prisons, where they observe the living conditions, listen to the inmates' stories and sometimes spend a day living the life of a prisoner. Oftentimes, the inmates confront the juveniles using an aggressive, "in your face" style of presentation designed to intimidate them.Continue Reading
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention denounced Scared Straight programs and removed all federal funding for them in 2011 on the basis that the programs are overall ineffective. Although seeing the potential consequences of their criminal actions may deter adults from committing crimes, youths have a lower ability to consider the consequences of their behavior before acting, according to Strategies for Youth. Rather, evaluations of the program have found that they actually increase crime rates among at-risk youth. Another issue with the programs is that some of the minors have reported incidents in which the inmates attempted to steal from them or made sexual advances at them.
Despite the lack of evidence that they work, one reason Scared Straight programs continue to exist is that they are an inexpensive way of addressing teenagers with behavioral problems. Another one of their appeals is that some people view them as a positive way for the prison inmates to contribute to society.Learn more about Crime