“Scared Straight” Programs Suspended in California and Maryland

Print More

scared_straight_seriesTwo 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.

29 thoughts on ““Scared Straight” Programs Suspended in California and Maryland

  1. I went through a scared straight program in Virginia Beach about 20 years ago or so and I wasn’t a gangster or smart mouth kid that did drugs. I was shuffled from foster home to foster home. I was sent there because I had an F on my report card. I remember a 72 year old woman who I assume was the Warden and she had a mouth on her like a sailor. I shook my head no out of nervousness and this C.O. hit me in the head with a collapsible baton and screams at me to “Shut my face!” I didn’t say a word for the whole day. During lunch in the cafeteria some inmate said “What are YOU looking at fatass?” I said that is not my name and I was jumped by two guards who smacked me in the mouth, breaking my jaw. I spat in the same inmate’s face as he smiled. I have a hard time trusting people because of what I went through. People like to make fraudulent judgments and assumptions about who I am and what I went through. I was a sexual assault survivor and I can’t tolerate anything sexual whatsoever

  2. Why council a program that has worked,keep these young punks in line.Maybe if we had scared straight program when nazis took over Germany maybe Hitler would,nt had murder 6 million Jews.For those bleeding heart liberals.I hope that puts some perpestictive on discipline with an intent to rehabiltate and not institutionalized people for profit.

  3. It makes me sad that someone would actually spend time on trying to cancel something that has worked. It may not help every kid but it has been proven to help many. Whom ever is spending their energy trying to cancel this, needs to take a deeper look at themselves to see why they are not supporting a worthwhile program. (most likely grew up with a silve spoon)

    • I agree whoever is trying to cancel this program does not have teenage kids in public school. Now day’s kids see all the glory of crime on television but nobody talks about consequences. Scared straight shows them what happen when you get caught or in some cases what happens when mommy and daddy can’t save you it shows them the real life. The people trying to stop this program have never lived in the so called hood so there blind to crime and the consequences of it.Kids need to see the real things that could happen if they continue on the path they are going. Show them it’s not all Rosie like they think.