Essay The Scared Straight Program

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The Scared Straight Program

The recent media obsession with the scared straight program, juvenile boot camps and other scare tactics has lead to the question as to whether they actually are beneficial or not in treating adolescent criminal recidivism. On television programs like Maury (Pauvich) the answer to treating the troubled young girls who are brought to the show is boot camp. Those in charge take these girls to prisons, dangerous streets at night and often morgues to make a visual argument as to where they will end up as a result of the path they've taken. They also go through a rigorous run with drill sergeants to break down their egos. Of course it only last one day as opposed to any length of time a judge would sentence,
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Many of the sources for the information in this paper referred to the same study by James O. Finckenauer. Few studies have been done on this topic, but many of the references discuss problems and positives of the Finckenauer study.
The Lifers' Group originally consisted of inmates in the New Jersey Rahway State Prison who were sentenced to twenty-five years or more. The original president and creator of the Lifer's Group was Richard Rowe (Finckenauer 1982, pg. 67).
The Lifers' Group was created in part to counteract what these inmates saw as a stereotyped, Hollywood-type image of prisons and convicts held by the general public. This image, they felt stigmatized convicts as immoral and inhuman. In order to dispel what they saw as a false image, the Lifers' wanted to try to prove that they could be useful and worthwhile people even though locked up in a maximum-security prison. (Finckenauer 1982, pg. 67).
September of 1976 was the first time the program occurred. According to the Lifers' group own letter to parents of adolescents who took part in the program (copy of form letter on page 80 in Finckenauer's book), only one person out of over 155 juveniles was taken into custody after their meeting with the Lifers' Group. A. Petrosino criticized this letter by saying that it wasn't an actual study with a control group and experimental group (Petrosino 1997, pg. 12). The issue that did not go unnoticed was that "a large number of kids

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