Archive for My Observations

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.

Inside Scoop

In the beginning, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to do something with the show Beyond Scared Straight.  I wanted to explore the ways in which the show was engaging; so I thought I would look into why the show was so popular.  I was going to conduct interviews to figure out what exactly about the show people liked.  Did more people tune in when the inmates were more aggressive?  That is why I questioned those 2 episodes I posted on my blog, one from season 1 and the other from season 2.  Season 1 was definitely more “subdued” than season 2.  I was wondering if the production team had anything to do with that difference.  But then I found a video of an interview that Shapiro did with the VP of A&E talking about how there was no script whatsoever and that the inmates and correctional officers received no instruction on how to act or what to say.  Then I found a transcript of another interview that Shapiro did, talking about what viewers should expect in the “new” season (season 2) of the show.  That is when I found out that in season 1, he had showcased programs in prisons whereas season 2 showcased programs in jails.  He wanted to show the public that jails can be as hardcore as prisons.

I dug a little deeper, I asked fans for their perspective and I read each and every post on a blog, discussion board and forum.  That is when I discovered that there were an even amount of people who did not like the show to those who did.  Being that I like the show, I was curious as to see why people disliked it.  That is when I realized that people were arguing and discussing in these various chat rooms about the effectiveness of the “behind bars” programs.

When I conducted a little more research, I found that this controversy was much bigger than I had originally thought.  There were juvenile advocacy groups and other organizations that were appalled by the show and were adamantly against the programs.  I had no idea the show was getting such attention.

I decided to ask fans if they knew about this controversy and if this debate encouraged/discouraged them from watching the show.   If so, I wanted to look into how exactly controversy works for/against ratings.  But after interviewing fans, I found out that most of them did not know of the controversy.  They simply watched it because of the entertainment value in watching cocky teens get a harsh reality check.  When I asked these fans if they would stop/continue watching the show now that they knew of the controversy, they all told me that it did not effect their choice to continue watching the show.

This led me to look further into the controversy and that is when I read all the different studies that have been conducted on the various programs across the United States.  I found more websites of advocacy groups and agencies that condemned the usage of the programs.  These groups were doing everything they could to get the show off air and to have all states stop running the programs.

This whole process was like peeling the skin off an onion.  The more skin I peeled, the more skin I found.

That is when I decided to look into the controversy issue.  I wanted to see what exactly these organizations were doing to get the show pulled off air.  I also wanted to see what they had done or planned to do in order to get each state to stop running the scared straight programs.

Differences in the Seasons

So far, there have been two seasons of Beyond Scared Straight.  In the first season, there were 7 episodes.  In the second season, there were 5 episodes.  I have watched every episode and I feel that season two is much more dramatic than season one.  It seems as if inmates and correctional officers have gotten much more aggressive and have taken intimidation to another level.  Is it coincidence that the inmates and correctional officers in the jails and prisons in season 2 are simply more antagonistic than the ones from season 1?  Or did the producers of the show have something to do with making the show more dramatic to raise ratings?

You can judge for yourself…

Season 1, Episode 3 – Corcoran, CA (state prison)

Originally aired Feb 27, 2011

Inmates are more like mentors and the correctional officers are stern and authoritative

 

Season 2, Episode 4 – Oklahoma County, OK (county jail)

Originally aired Sep 8, 2011

Both inmates and correctional officers get in the faces  of the teens and yell into their ears