Archive for Insight

Pros vs Cons

Even though I have provided you with various links that give you information regarding the pros and cons of the program, I decided to create a chart for easy comparison.  I used 3 sources to compile this information: (1) the study conducted by the Secretary of Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice, Anthony Schembri, (2) a book written by William Chambliss about juvenile crime and justice, and (3) a fact sheet released by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.

All information on this chart is based on public opinion and the results from the various studies that have been conducted on the behind bars programs.

I have highlighted in red, the one negative factor that I believe is the real cause on why a couple of states have decided to suspend their programs.


Agree To Disagree

There seems to be a lot of debate on the effectiveness of the program.  There is no straight right or wrong answer.  Everyone seems to have their own reasons/perspectives on why the program works/fails.  Based on the information that I have come across, this is what it boils down to:

For the program: Teachers, parents, police officers, prison/jail wardens, school guidance counselors, teens who went through the program or knew someone who went through it

Against the program: Academia, researchers, government officials, juvenile advocacy groups

A blog dedicated to helping parents improve their parenting skills talks about the scared straight program.  In the blog, they are not for nor against the program.  It simply states the facts that have been presented for both sides and asks the parents to weigh their options and make an informed and thoughtful decision.

Arnold Shapiro has stated many times that the program should be used as a last resort.  In an interview with Youth Today, Shapiro spoke about his take on the effectiveness of the program.  He believes the program does in fact work based on the follow-up results from his Scared Straight! documentary and based on the fact that so many teachers, parents and counselors eagerly continue to utilize the program.

No matter which blog site or forum you are on, the same inconsistency appears; half of the public seem to praise the program while the other half condemn anyone who uses it.  But who is right?  What matters more: public opinion or statistics?  What measures should be used to assess the effectiveness of a program?  If a study proclaims fail but someone has personally seen it work, does that mean the program is still an epic fail?  Some believe deterring at least one teen is worth the effort while others believe people should focus on all those teens that the program didn’t work on.  Will this issue ever be settled?

Scared Straight! 1978

I watched the original documentary done in 1978 to see how it compared to the show on A&E.

Here are a couple of clips from the documentary:

Warning! – it is not censored so there WILL be offensive material and language


Part 2 of 10


Part 4 of 10


Everyone knows that controversy sells.  Look at what happened with UK’s Celebrity Big Brother.  The show was getting poor ratings until a couple of the contestants made a racist remark towards a fellow contestant, an Indian actress.  The remark received tons of media coverage, which in turn helped boost the show’s ratings.

MTV was hoping that its new show, Skins, based on a hit British show about the “true” lives of teenagers would be a huge hit.  Skins, would cover controversial topics, such has promiscuity and drug abuse.  When people started talking about the show and its risque content, MTV was sure it would become a hit. So it was a major disappointment when the show had to be cancelled due to extremely low ratings.

This website lists the top 20 greatest TV controversies.  All 20 are interesting but #16 clearly tells you that the controversy helped with ratings.  Drama and shock value draw audiences in.  Even though it was unfortunate that one of the contestants of Expedition Robinson committed suicide, we learned in class that the incident caused a stir among the public which in turn drastically increased the ratings for the show.  However, it must not be forgotten that controversy can act as a double-edged sword.  Controversies have the potential to cause the demise of shows.  Recent shows such as NBC’s The Playboy Club and ABC’s V were both cancelled due to the controversies surrounding each show.

I’ve already stated in a previous post that there has been much controversy with Beyond Scared Straight regarding the effectiveness of the various “behind bars” programs in America.  I want to look at how the controversy effected the ratings for the show.

These are the ratings I found for the show.  I got them from TVbytheNumbers; they had the ratings spread across 4 pages and I put them together for easier viewing.  There really doesn’t seem to be a spike in the ratings.  Does this mean that the controversy didn’t really effect the ratings?

What do you think?

1. Why do you like watching Beyond Scared Straight? 

Here are some questions to consider: Are you curious on how the inside of a prison/jail looks like?  Did you know someone that was going to be on the show?  Do you just want to see these kids break down? (Because that’s actually why I watch it…I enjoy watching the aggressive inmates giving a reality check to these arrogant kids who think they know everything & are untouchable).


2. How do you feel about the various behind bars programs in America?

Do you think the whole “scared straight” concept works?  Does it make a difference?  Do you think these programs help in decreasing teen delinquency?  Should it be used as a form of parenting?  Does how you feel about the program affect whether or not you watch the show?

Shapiro Interview

The creator of the show, Arnold Shapiro is interviewed by Senior VP of Programming at A&E.  The interview is split into two parts.  It is a question and answer session where Shapiro answers questions asked by the fans of the show.  A few of the questions that I’ve had about the show are answered, such as what do the inmates get for participating in the “scared straight” programs and how real is the show?  According to Shapiro, the inmates volunteer to speak with the teens and they receive no perks for participating; they do not get monetary gain or time taken off their sentence.  Shapiro also states that he and his crew are simply there to capture what regularly goes on during these sessions.  No one is given a script or asked to act in a particular way.  Shapiro states during his interview that Beyond Scared Straight is “a documentary, not an exploiting reality show.”

Part One – 16:03

Part Two – 13:17