Two states suspended Scared Straight programs on Friday. California and Maryland prison officials, who welcomed producers of Beyond Scared Straight into their high security facilities, are now backing away from the show and the confrontational diversion program for troubled teens. South Carolina is also reviewing the issue, according to mercurynews.com.
The U.S. Department of Justice is warning state officials that scared straight techniques don’t deter young people from crime, and may make them more likely to offend in the future. An op-ed piece published in the Baltimore Sun this week and written by two Justice Department officials says the agency discourages funding for scared straight-type programs, and states that operate them risk losing their federal funding under provisions of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.
Episodes of Beyond Scared Straight were created inside prisons in California, Maryland and South Carolina for the show that debuted in January on the A&E network.
The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services began a review of its diversion programs after inmates were shown touching and grabbing kids in the episode. No complaints were filed but J. Michael Stouffer, Maryland Commissioner of Corrections, decided to review the programs as a precaution, according to the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
Another Maryland program that gives teens one-on-one counseling sessions with inmates has also been cancelled.
JJIE.org reported on Tuesday that Rhode Island suspended its “Scared Straight” program after state officials learned that children as young as 8 were involved.
A nationwide petition drive is calling on the A&E Network to cancel the show and educate the public on the potential dangers of the program.