Scared Straight Program Essay

711 Words Feb 13th, 2013 3 Pages
Crime and violence is a huge issue nationwide. Various strategies and programs have been implemented to help reduce such from occurring. Nearly half of crimes in the United States are committed by youth 10 to 17 years old. Juvenile crime increases each year at a rate double of adult crime. One way to help deter juvenile crime was the creation of the “Scared Straight Program”.
Programs like Scared Straight consist of organized visits to prison facilities by juvenile delinquents or juveniles at risk of becoming delinquent or showing such behavior. During contact with the juveniles the adult inmates describe their experiences of cruel, harsh, and unpleasant conditions connected with jail or prison incarceration. The expected outcome
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Seventeen juvenile offenders were followed by camera as they experienced prison life for two hours. During the duration of the show it was reported that about 8,000 juveniles had visited the prison and that 80% of them were reformed by the experience (Feinstein, 2005, Pg. 41). Despite this involvement of juveniles with inmates, researchers found no difference between those actually participating in the Scared Straight program and those not participating.
Since then the authors of “Scared Straight” and other juvenile awareness programs for preventing juvenile delinquency did a 2002 meta-analysis of relevant research on nine such programs. It was concluded that not only does the program fail to deter crime, but it actually leads to more offending behavior. Recidivism rates were found to be higher for those exposed to Scared Straight programs than those not in the program. Other studies have also demonstrated that the program is ineffective in preventing delinquent behavior, and that there is evidence that participation in such program may actually contribute toward increased delinquency behavior. Scared Straight Programs also violate the sight and sound separation requirement of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 2002. A guideline provided by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention states that “the state must assure that no juvenile offender shall enter under public…