English 101, Composition
January 13, 2014
Since 2011 there have been more than 1.3 million juvenile delinquency cases. Shock incarceration programs such as the Scared Straight program are extremely out dated and ineffective. There have been numerous studies showing that programs that use tactics such as bullying and threatening do not work with juveniles. These programs are designed to deter at-risk youths from a life of crime but instead only increase re-offender rates. The programs that show tremendous promise are programs such as mentoring, counseling, and interventions. Not So Scared Straight According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention the number of juvenile arrests in 2013 is up by 15%. “Scared Straight” is a program that is designed to deter young people from a life of criminal activity. The concept of this program is to take juveniles and show them what life is like in prison behind the bars. These kinds of programs are aimed to teach kids that their bad behavior and criminal mischief have serious consequences. The “scared straight” tactic does little to deter juveniles from a life of crime.
There is a law in Illinois that requires the Chicago Public Schools to take at-risk youth on tours of adult prison facilities. This law was designed to give these children a firsthand look as to what their future could be like by interacting with correction officers and inmates alike. One reason that this program is ineffective is because these at risk kids can identify with the inmates and they actually feel as though prison is place that they can fit in. Social worker, Becky Blanton, states that “The allure of being around men who seemed to model confidence, attitude, caring (since the prisoners who conducted the program repeatedly said, “We care about you and don’t want you ending up in here like us.”) was strong. Several of the teenagers who I saw attend the program actually expressed a desire to go to prison on the way home from their tour!” (2011). According to juvenile crime expert John Wilson “They will identify with prisoners. They think: “I’m tough, I can fit in.” And then they brag about the experience to their friends.” (Lewis, 2011). Most of the children that turn to a life of crime come from homes where one or both of the parents are absent. They have never really had a positive adult role model in their life. These juveniles talk to inmates that have lived in similar areas as they do and made some of the same decisions that they have made. While any able minded adult would see that this could be what these risk juvenile’s future may look like, these kids’ minds are not fully developed causing them to think irrationally. Petrosino, A., Turpin-Petrosino, C., & Buehler, J. state that “…many of these youth were actually attracted to the idea of prison life after a visit. Prison culture, with its violence, aberrant behavior and socially unacceptable population, showed youth a culture where their fringe or aberrant behaviors would actually fit in and be accepted.” (2003).
Psychotherapy is a therapeutic treatment between a trained professional and a client or patient. This kind of therapy can take months or even years to find causes, triggers, or resolutions regarding this questionable behavior. It is unreasonable to think that while the scared straight treatment is cost effective, ranging approximately thirty to sixty dollars per youth, that this program being six to eight hours in length at most is enough time to correct these behavioral issues. “Accustomed to the structure and lifestyle of correctional facilities, it was unlikely adjudicated youth would be frightened by a two-hour prison visit” (Feinstein, 2005). The best kind of treatment for these issues would be for the child to be evaluated by a psychologist to see if there are any kinds of underlying issues…