Scared Straight and Other Juvenile Awareness Programs for Preventing Juvenile Delinquency: A Systematic Review

By Anthony Petrosino, Carolyn Turpin-Petrosino, Meghan E. Hollis-Peel, Julia G. Lavenberg

Scared Straight
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Description

Programs like Scared Straight aim to deter juvenile delinquents and children who are at risk for becoming delinquent from committing crimes in the future. The programs involve organized visits to prison facilities in which children and youth observe prison life first hand and interact with adult inmates.

This systematic review examines several studies on these types of programs to assess the effects the programs have on their participants. The review results indicate that not only do these programs fail to deter crime, they actually lead to more offending behavior and are therefore not a recommended crime prevention strategy.

The review also notes that government officials permitting such programs need to adopt rigorous evaluations to ensure that they are not causing more harm to the public they are designed to protect.

WestEd’s Anthony Petrosino co-authored this systematic review.

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