Scared Straight Programs Harm Participants & Increase Delinquency
In this op-ed published February 1, 2011, in the Baltimore Sun, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Laurie Robinson and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Acting Administrator Jeff Slowikowski discuss how the use of scared straight programs to prevent delinquency is ineffective and can harm youth.
Robinson and Slowikowski comment on this study by Anthony Petrosino and researchers at the Campbell Collaboration, which analyzed results from nine scared straight programs and found that participants were up to 28 percent more likely to offend in the future. As a result of such evidence, the U.S. Department of Justice does not support scared straight-style programs, and instead focuses on programs that research has proven effective, such as mentoring programs, which use positive relationships to modify youth’s behavior.
Robinson and Slowikowski write, “The fact that [scared straight] programs are still being touted as effective, despite stark evidence to the contrary, is troubling.”