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The recent media obsession with the scared straight program, juvenile boot camps and other scare tactics has led to the question as to whether they actually are beneficial or not in treating adolescent criminal recidivism.

 The main goal of the Scared Straight program is to deter the early years from committing future criminal behavior. They target teens generally less than eighteen years old who are generally at risk or even future juvenile delinquents. This program is intended to switch the teens point of view into the real life of an inmate. The program relies on three things to deter the youth from living the life committing crime and that’s fear, intimidation and hostile behavior.

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         The way the program is intended to deter the youth from committing a future crime is by treating the young delinquents the same way they’re treating the locked-up offenders. The correctional officers are treating them just how a prisoner would be treated. They’re showing the youth a visual argument as to where they will end up as a result of the path they’ve taken. If the teens want to act as a criminal, they have to look a criminal. All participants get prison jumpsuits, so they would get the fresh feeling of what they have to wear in a correctional facility. The way deterrence theory plays in is when the teenagers are getting toured through the prison hallways, they are also seeing and meeting other aggressive inmates. It’s an observation of the consequence they will have to face due to criminal behaviors and its real-life experiences being incarcerated.  The importance of the success or failure of these programs is important because right now it is the popular solution.

If these programs are going nowhere, time should be invested in creating new ideas and methods to treat these children before they become adults in the prison system.             Is this program effective? In my opinion, this juvenile awareness program is effective, but also ineffective. I believe everyone is different.

I’m usually a fan of scared straight and after seeing the ending where the juvenile delinquents are rehabilitees as well as promise too to go back to school, quit drugs, stealing, prostituting, and stop the abusive behavior, they might say all these things, but it may not be exactly true. The program will accomplish its goal when given teenagers get a real taste of the prison experience. They’ll realize prison is no joke if the criminal behavior continues. It’s effective because it gives them a chance to straighten up before it’s too late. People are raised differently, some need a real-life experience, which it’ll deter them from committing future crime. You also have those who don’t understand, and this is where deterrence theory and the program are ineffective. There’s that one participant who doesn’t get the idea, so they continue to reoffend.

It’s been proven that even programs like the scared straight will increase the odds that the youth will continue to commit offenses in the future.


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