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Old 21st January 2011, 07:39 AM   #1
jayman
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Scared Straight: Do These Programs Work?

A new series just started on A&E called Beyond Scared Straight.

Do programs like Scared Straight work? By "work" I mean deter juvenile offenders from living a life of crime.
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Old 21st January 2011, 07:48 AM   #2
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I thought you meant something entirely different.
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Old 21st January 2011, 07:48 AM   #3
Professor Yaffle
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Originally Posted by Josh111485 View Post
A new series just started on A&E called Beyond Scared Straight.

Do programs like Scared Straight work? By "work" I mean deter juvenile offenders from living a life of crime.
Doesn't look like it:
http://www.ncianet.org/publicpolicy/...edstraight.asp
http://www.djj.state.fl.us/Research/...et_Version.pdf
http://psychcentral.com/blog/archive...ht-not-really/
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Old 21st January 2011, 07:59 AM   #4
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I can't speak to statistical effectiveness, but my sister went to one of these scared straight programs and it really made a difference. She was a troublemaker, had been ever since she was a little kid, but especially once she hit her teens. It was nothing major, she wasn't beating people up or shooting heroin, more like skipping school, minor vandalism, shoplifting, and smoking pot. She was arrested at one point for a minor charge that she got probation for.


She ended up going to a scared straight program. She didn't actually go inside a jail (she'd already done that when arrested). It was just this former convict who had done hard time for cocaine dealing, and he just told her and the other kids all about prison. He really put fear into them, and he (who was a huge, tough looking guy himself) stressed to the kids that it doesn't matter how big and tough you are, there's going to be people bigger and tougher than you, and that you should expect to be beaten and raped in prison because its so common. He also just talked about how much prison sucks and what a criminal record can do to your life and opportunities.

I wouldn't say this single handedly turned my sister around, but it really did have a profound impact on her, along with her actually being arrested. She really turned it around and didn't get into trouble after that. To this day, about 7 years later, she still talks about that guy's speech and how scared it made her.
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Old 21st January 2011, 08:05 AM   #5
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Add on - for some reason can't edit my post. Of course my sister was a troublemaker from a good, fairly affluent family, who always planned to have a professinal career. It's not like she was a gang banger who aspired to be a criminal when she grew up. I'm sure some little white girl from the suburbs who stole some make up and smashed a few car windows is a lot more easily scared than some teenager from the ghetto who aspires to be a drug dealer...who of course are the kids its most important to reach.
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Old 21st January 2011, 02:50 PM   #6
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There might be some types that work. There's also "Straight Inc" and various spinoff "treatment" modalities that are extremely abusive and counterproductive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straight,_Incorporated

http://www.fornits.com/anonanon/

I knew a LOT of kids that got thrown in Straight Inc programs in the 1990's. Most turned out to be heroin junkies later on, and no, they didn't start out "worse" than kids with more tolerant parents.
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Old 21st January 2011, 07:49 PM   #7
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Cool Straight Inc

Originally Posted by kellyb View Post

I knew a LOT of kids that got thrown in Straight Inc programs in the 1990's. Most turned out to be heroin junkies later on, and no, they didn't start out "worse" than kids with more tolerant parents.
While I always appreciate people bringing Straight Inc and it's abusive ways to light, I will say that kids were thrown into straight from the mid 70s to the mid 90s. It was around for 20 years. Secondly it is NOT true that MOST kids turned out to be heron junkies later. I know a handful who turned to heroin (some who are clean now), and I've been in touch with thousands of people who went through the program. Many kids did turn to harder drugs then they had done prior to Straight, most kids going in were not addicts, and came out of Straight with more problems then they had when they went in. Many still suffer from PTSD, some self medicate, but only a small percentage may have turned to heroin, not MOST.
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Old 21st January 2011, 08:07 PM   #8
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I've heard mixed results, as one would expect, depending upon the program. However, I do find the new A & E series compelling. I would like to see them do follow ups a year or two later. A few months isn't very indicative of a commitment to a change in behavior.
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Old 21st January 2011, 08:13 PM   #9
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I know many persons who've been to jail.
More than once.
Going to jail the first time didn't scare them, I have to think, as they go back time after time.
Something is missing in their life, to make jail time something to avoid, and certainly something to not go back to.
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Old 21st January 2011, 08:39 PM   #10
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I watched it last night. This midget girl got arrested for public intoxication on the beach. She was forced to live with a bunch of tattooed freaks who were trying to convince her if she didn't clean up her act she'd wind up like them; working at t-shirt shop and only able to communicate with the outside world through a duck phone. It was horrifying and I can't imagine her ever wanting to drink again after seeing the path she was going do...

...wait, that wasn't A&E?
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Old 21st January 2011, 08:46 PM   #11
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I personally know a few people who went through that program...

...and from what I've heard, it was a joke. Anyone who enters the program already knows that no physical harm can or will come to them. You just get screamed at a lot and told macabre anecdotes about rape.

It's more like boot camp.
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Old 21st January 2011, 09:39 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Josh111485 View Post
A new series just started on A&E called Beyond Scared Straight.

Do programs like Scared Straight work? By "work" I mean deter juvenile offenders from living a life of crime.
http://www.djj.state.fl.us/Research/...et_Version.pdf

Apparently they do - they result in an increased liklihood the young person brought in will commit the crimes the programs are intended to prevent. The above is a meta-research paper.
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Old 21st January 2011, 09:52 PM   #13
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Just to be clear Straight Inc and Scared Straight are totally different. I only say this cuz Kelly brought up Straight Inc. One lasts a few days (scared straight) and shows kids how tough prison might be. The other lasts a few years and holds children prisoner while abusing them. it shows kids how ****** our system is - that a program that abuses kids for profit and does nothing to HELP children actually exists. It sure woke me and thousands of others up to reality. We're working on a documentary about Straight Inc. right now, stay tuned, we're about to blow the lid off this Mutha!

Edited by jhunter1163:  Do not evade the autocensor.

Last edited by jhunter1163; 22nd January 2011 at 02:35 AM.
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Old 22nd January 2011, 03:01 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Josh111485 View Post
A new series just started on A&E called Beyond Scared Straight.

Do programs like Scared Straight work? By "work" I mean deter juvenile offenders from living a life of crime.
There is evidence that the 'scared straight' programs not only don't deter crime but are actually associated with an increased risk of offending in those who take part.
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Old 22nd January 2011, 04:10 AM   #15
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Dunno if scaring someone straight works, but the kind of prospective brides that grandma kept finding for me, almost scared me gay, lemme tell you
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Old 22nd January 2011, 11:40 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Elaedith View Post
There is evidence that the 'scared straight' programs not only don't deter crime but are actually associated with an increased risk of offending in those who take part.
One of those sources is above in my first post here. IIRC it says 1.6 times more likely to commit crimes if through the program than if not through it.
(It is a meta-study of the major research done at the time.)
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Old 22nd January 2011, 11:44 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
One of those sources is above in my first post here. IIRC it says 1.6 times more likely to commit crimes if through the program than if not through it.
(It is a meta-study of the major research done at the time.)
Which I linked to in the the third post in this thread...


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Old 22nd January 2011, 12:22 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by webdiva View Post
While I always appreciate people bringing Straight Inc and it's abusive ways to light, I will say that kids were thrown into straight from the mid 70s to the mid 90s. It was around for 20 years. Secondly it is NOT true that MOST kids turned out to be heron junkies later. I know a handful who turned to heroin (some who are clean now), and I've been in touch with thousands of people who went through the program. Many kids did turn to harder drugs then they had done prior to Straight, most kids going in were not addicts, and came out of Straight with more problems then they had when they went in. Many still suffer from PTSD, some self medicate, but only a small percentage may have turned to heroin, not MOST.
I was talking about my anecdotal experience with kids I personally knew.

ETA:
Are you the webmaster for the site I linked to? I live in the city where Scotty Cassidy's "Second Chance" program operated. Second Chance was, I think, the most religiously brainwashing of all the Straight Inc-type programs that existed. Creepiest, craziest stuff I've ever heard of. Having some hysterical Jesus-powered "breakthrough confession" that they were a heroin addict before being sent to Second Chance was nearly a necessity to program graduation.
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Old 22nd January 2011, 01:37 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
Which I linked to in the the third post in this thread...

Gosh all darnnit you did indeed! Ooops!
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Old 22nd January 2011, 03:28 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by MikeSun5 View Post
I personally know a few people who went through that program...

...and from what I've heard, it was a joke. Anyone who enters the program already knows that no physical harm can or will come to them. You just get screamed at a lot and told macabre anecdotes about rape.

It's more like boot camp.
And the problem is, more than likely these kids will have known someone that has been to jail, and the exaggerated nature of the anecdotes used ( protip, prison rape is used as punishment, and used infrequently. Prison is not the public restroom from hell the media has made it out to be. ) is going to simply make them laugh.

I have always been a law abiding person, my friends, by and large as a kid were not. These programs were seen as a joke, especially when a local one started using local theater actors as inmates.
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Old 22nd January 2011, 03:32 PM   #21
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And come to think of it....

Most music or entertainment these kids would be listening to ( and to be fair, the kind a lot of people, including myself enjoy. ) constantly talks about how crappy prison is, how crappy gang life is, the effects of violence on the human body, etc.

So, how in the hell did someone come up with the idea that giving them a live performance would make them less likely to be a-holes?

What is next, "Snoop Straight" in which Snoop dog raps at kids for 8 hours about the horrors of prison?

Giving these kids more contact with sketchy people ( or actors pretending to be sketchy people. ) , is the opposite of what you want to do.
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Old 23rd January 2011, 07:24 PM   #22
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I was thinking about short term programs designed to correct budding delinquents. I don't mean to blame the parents because I am sure a lot of the problem is probably psychological issues with the child. Yet, for a child to make it to teens and continue to progress into a life a crime, something wasn't done at home. So let's say the program, whether it be scared straight or one of those boot camps, is actually a success. How much difference will it make once the child returns to the environment where the problems developed in the first place?
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Old 24th January 2011, 05:50 PM   #23
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Nothing is ever going to be a 100% success rate with 100% of the participants. What works for one may not work for another and vice versa. But if something is successful with even just a few of them, then it's worth keeping a program running in order to continue succeeding with those select few that come along.

For some kids a kick in the ass is all they need. For others, there's not a damn thing you can do to stop the direction they're going in.
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Old 25th January 2011, 02:30 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Xephyr View Post
Nothing is ever going to be a 100% success rate with 100% of the participants. What works for one may not work for another and vice versa. But if something is successful with even just a few of them, then it's worth keeping a program running in order to continue succeeding with those select few that come along.
But if you look at a huge group of people and determine that there is no overall benefit (the same number end up in jail, for example), why focus on those that apparently were helped while ignoring those that it apparently hurt? Because if there is no net effect, then that means for every person that it helped, that it hurt one. Why focus on successes and ignore the failures? Not just "no effect" but actually failures of causing the opposite result.
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Old 25th January 2011, 02:42 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Xephyr View Post
Nothing is ever going to be a 100% success rate with 100% of the participants. What works for one may not work for another and vice versa. But if something is successful with even just a few of them, then it's worth keeping a program running in order to continue succeeding with those select few that come along.

For some kids a kick in the ass is all they need. For others, there's not a damn thing you can do to stop the direction they're going in.
Well, no, because there is no such thing as a free meal. Somewhere along the line you have to compare the cost put into it -- including time stolen from those children's childhood, which I understand can be quite significant for some -- to the result and judge if it is worth it.

You'd have to show at least a correlation, which does include looking at both hits and misses, and by how much. And ideally then show causation too. As opposed to, dunno, maybe the kind of parents who'd send their kids to such programs educated them to be mostly nice people anyway.

And then compare the results to the cost. If you can say that 1% more people would be in prison without them, hmm, then maybe a small effort is justified. If it's zero percent, then no, it's not doing anything. And if the result is negative, then you're better off stopping it ASAP.

Campaigns which produced negative results are actually known to have existed. Including such stuff as a campaign against smoking actually making more teenagers _start_ smoking. How do you know that this stuff isn't in that category?

But you need to compare percentages to the rest of the population to know that.

Otherwise, if you focus only on the positives, and don't compare it to what happens when you _don't_ do that, just about any stupidity can look like it's working. E.g., you could say that the Aztec sacrifices did make the sun rise.
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Old 25th January 2011, 03:07 PM   #26
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I can see how the person could give good advice that seems more legitimate to kids, but I never understood how a kid could think for a second they'd be allowed to be harmed in any way by these people. As a kid and teenager I used to watch this stuff on TV and shake my head. I guess if the kid doesn't understand the way the law works it's possible to scare them, but otherwise, meh.
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Old 31st January 2011, 07:26 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
I was talking about my anecdotal experience with kids I personally knew.

ETA:
Are you the webmaster for the site I linked to? I live in the city where Scotty Cassidy's "Second Chance" program operated. Second Chance was, I think, the most religiously brainwashing of all the Straight Inc-type programs that existed. Creepiest, craziest stuff I've ever heard of. Having some hysterical Jesus-powered "breakthrough confession" that they were a heroin addict before being sent to Second Chance was nearly a necessity to program graduation.
Oh gotcha.

Nope not that site, but I do know the webmaster. Actually most of these programs, Straight included were spawns from a religious cult called Synanon. Google it. I have a feeling Second Chance used similar tactics as well.
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Old 11th February 2012, 08:50 AM   #28
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The "scared straight" type programs are entertainment to me, but I also see them saying prison staff has no control in the prison system. The inmates are proud and loud in saying they'll do what they want when they want and staff can't protect anyone.

Interesting thread. I was disappointed there aren't more comments.
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Old 13th February 2012, 12:23 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by jayman View Post
A new series just started on A&E called Beyond Scared Straight.

Do programs like Scared Straight work? By "work" I mean deter juvenile offenders from living a life of crime.
I had a co-worker who after spending the night in the drunk-tank (the toilet was stopped up), changed his drinking habits and vowed never to be drunk in public again. However, someone who isn't bothered by being puked on would not likely be deterred.

I suspect a similar principle applies to "scared straight". Personality types that would be deterred, would be less likely to be the "career criminal" type anyhow.
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Old 13th February 2012, 12:49 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Schrodinger's Cat View Post
Add on - for some reason can't edit my post.
Because you are registered as a guest.

Good to see you around.
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