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.
Sadly, 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.