Scared Straight Program

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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 of these programs is to change the behavior of the juveniles by shocking, scaring, and deterring them from being involved in further delinquent behavior or activities. The programs objective is to deter juveniles from future offending by demonstrating first hand observation and experience of prison life and interaction with the inmates. Many juvenile delinquency rates have been concluded to come from social problems such as poverty, low education levels, peers, lack of supervision, and guidance. Prison based awareness programs date back to the mid-1960s when the San Quentin Squires Program was established in 1964 at the maximum security prison in San Quentin, California (Klenowski, Bell, Dodson, 2010, Pg. 256). Various similar programs were created in the late 1960s in more than 20 states across the United States. Up until 1978, these programs were known as “Juvenile Awareness Programs”. The original Scared Straight Program was on the focus of a television documentary in 1978. Inmates serving life sentences at Rahway State Prison in New Jersey started the program in the 1970’s. It anticipated that by the juveniles experiencing prison life and hearing from the inmates themselves about life behind bars youth and...
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