Man sitting at a desk working flat screen computer with his fingers, graphs of numbers and other numerics superimposed over the image

Juvenile Justice Big Data in the Era of Big Policing

Big data has already come to big city policing. The technology may be new, but some juvenile justice advocates worry that it may already be compromised by an age-old tech problem: Garbage in, garbage out.

Scared Straight Continues, Despite Misgivings

This week, the fourth season of the A&E TV show “Beyond Scared Straight” follows two young sisters to the adult jail in Douglas County, Ga. “We’ve got a real serious ethical program here,” said Professor Del Elliott, the founding director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado Boulder. “We’ve got a TV production that’s promoting a program which is doing harm to our children.”

What J. Edgar Hoover and Scared Straight get Wrong about Juvenile Justice

Recently, I wrote about how locking up youth in juvenile hall only increased the chances that they would reoffend. This was based on the new study, “No Place for Kids.”

Another report that came out earlier this year, “Evidence-Based Interventions for Juvenile Offenders and Juvenile Justice Policies that Support Them,” takes a look at what works and what doesn’t. According to the study, only 5 percent of eligible youthful offenders are treated with an evidence-based service. Evidence-Based services are ones that have been demonstrated to be successful. Many juvenile offender services are not effective and some methods, like “shock incarceration treatment,” such as Scared Straight, actually worsen anti-social behavior.

Juvenile Justice System: Alisa’s Story

I’m from a small town in Missouri. It all started when I was 13. I started rebelling, and I ended up stealing my dad’s car. I then got put in juvenile. Two weeks after being on probation for that, I stole another car…

John Lash

OP-ED: John Lash On Scared Straight From a Personal Experience

I just watched the first episode of this season of A&E’s “Beyond Scared Straight.” This was my first exposure to the show. JJIE.org has covered the details of this program and experts have weighed in about it in this space, from knowledgeable, yet slightly removed positions.

For me, however, it was a strange and personal experience. Watching the show I was flooded by memories of my own time in prison, both as a young man and as an older prisoner in contact with “at risk youth.” I felt waves of emotion, mostly negative, as I watched fear and intimidation used, along with a smattering of humane connection, to bring about change in these young people.

When I first arrived at the youth prison in Alto (a notorious prison at the time in north Georgia) in 1985, I was placed in a dorm. The officer told us that if we were fighting and refused to stop when he called “break,” he would “bust our ‘tater” with his billy club.

Amid Continuing Controversy, Beyond Scared Straight Set to Begin Second Season

The second season of “Beyond Scared Straight” begins Thursday night and with it come renewed questions about its effectiveness. The reality program follows at-risk teens as they are threatened, screamed at, and harassed by prison inmates in an attempt to get them to change their ways. The show was A&E Network’s most watched debut in its history with 3.7 million viewers. As JJIE reported at the time of the show’s debut in January, juvenile justice experts are concerned the show may be sending the wrong message. They point to studies that say scared straight-style programs are not only ineffective, but also counter-productive.