Beyond Scared Straight Renewed for Second Season

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The controversial reality television program “Beyond Scared Straight” will return for a second season on the A&E cable network. The show follows a small group of at-risk kids as they are taken inside prison where inmates try to scare them away from lives of crime by yelling at them and describing the brutal reality of prison life.

Juvenile justice experts have derided the show for advocating a program that many studies have shown to be not only ineffective, but also counter-effective, increasing the likelihood that kids will commit crimes in the future.

John Wilson, a juvenile crime expert said at the time of the show’s premier last January, “The research is clear that Scared Straight is a failed program that does more harm than good.”

The show’s producer Arnold Shapiro contends the studies don’t provide an accurate depiction of Scared Straight’s success. He says the best tool to assess the programs is follow-up with the kids. Shapiro produced the original documentary “Scared Straight!” along with a number of sequels that checked in with the kids from the first film.

scared_straight_seriesSadly, not all of the kids from the original film avoided prison. As JJIE reported in February, Angelo Speziale was recently convicted of murder despite his claims that “Scared Straight!” changed his life for the better.

“Beyond Scared Straight” debuted to 3.7 million viewers in January making it A&E’s most watched debut of all time.


2 thoughts on “Beyond Scared Straight Renewed for Second Season

  1. I am always disappointed by tactics that focus on a negative outcome and disempower youth! Gang-prevention actually gives gangs more power. Guess what takes power away from at-risk behaviors? Helping a child succeed in school, establish healthy and supportive relationships, and accomplish something they are afraid to even hope for…

  2. Yeah. My jr. high implemented a “scared straight” lite program back in the late 70s. I believe it was the first time I heard of butt f$%k$%^. The hilarious thing was, it was presented to my class of very upper middle class kids in the new neighborhood I lived in – these kids were so far from a life of crime I can’t even imagine why they brought these guys in. The school I had LEFT was in serious rapid decline with race issues and creeping poverty. Real crime was nibbling at the edges of the community. I don’t think this would have done those kids any good, either, but sitting in our brand new shiny freshly carpeted classrooms with these shiny scrubbed Anglo kids… I dunno. I guess it was strangely interesting to see these huge, remorseful tattooed guys in shackles, but mostly it just struck me, and strikes me still, as tremendously sad.