Despite Criticism, “Scared Straight’s” Youth Intimidation is Back


Set to air at 8 p.m. tomorrow, the first new-season episode of the reality show “Beyond Scared Straight” retains the themes that made it A & E's most watched show: A small group of at-risk youth spend the day in prison where they are yelled at, intimidated, and humiliated by sheriff's deputies and inmates alike, reports the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. The screaming and threats of prison rape are followed by emotional conversations with the inmates as they describe to teens where they went wrong and how to avoid the same fate.

The episode features Mecklenburg County, N.C.'s “Reality Program,” created by Sheriff Daniel “Chipp” Bailey. “Our Reality Program stresses education, not intimidation,” Bailey says. After watching the show, expert Dr. Heather Pincock was baffled. “There is no coherent approach in the diversion program,” she said. “Most of the episode they [the deputies] were there to intimidate the youth or break the youth down or humiliate them. Then they suddenly start saying. 'We're your friends, we're here to help you.' There are very mixed messages around their role. It doesn't make any sense.” “Beyond Scared Straight” has drawn criticism from juvenile justice experts who say it is ineffective and a waste of money

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