The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges is calling on the A&E network to present the facts about the new show called “Beyond Scared Straight.” The judges are joining a chorus of experts who warn that Scared Straight tactics do not work on at-risk kids, and may actually harm them.
The show debuted on the A&E cable network in January. It is the fourth incarnation of a theatrical film and television series that takes children inside adult prisons in an attempt to scare them away from a life of crime.
JJIE.org has interviewed national experts and reviewed at least ten research studies that say Scared Straight programs are ineffective and a waste of money.
Here’s the full statement from the National Council of Juvenile Court Judges:
The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges is concerned that the A&E program "Beyond Scared Straight" misrepresents the effectiveness of such interventions with youthful offenders. Although advertisements for the show claim Scared Straight! is "an effective juvenile prevention/intervention program," social science research clearly demonstrates the opposite. In fact, research strongly suggests Scared Straight! and similar programs have a harmful impact on youth and are associated with increased risk for continued delinquent/criminal behaviors. Further, it is clear these types of interventions as portrayed are neither developmentally appropriate nor trauma-informed.
The NCJFCJ joins the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and other leaders in juvenile justice and child welfare to call on A&E to provide a meaningful opportunity to present the facts around Scared Straight! and similar programs, and to help inform the public about evidence-based practices and programs for youthful offenders.
Catch up on the controversy, and read what producer Arnold Shapiro says in this full report from JJIE.org.