Scared Straight

Evidence Rating  
Evidence of Ineffectiveness
Evidence rating: Evidence of Ineffectiveness

Strategies with this rating are not good investments. These strategies have been tested in many robust studies with consistently negative and sometimes harmful results.


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Health Factors  
Decision Makers

Scared Straight and other juvenile awareness programs bring juvenile delinquents or youth at risk of delinquency on organized group visits to prisons that include observations of prison life and interactions with adult inmates. Such programs also include presentations from inmates that describe the effects of violence and life in prison.

What does the research say about effectiveness? This strategy is rated evidence of ineffectiveness.

There is strong evidence that Scared Straight and other juvenile awareness programs increase juvenile crime and recidivism1, 2. Youth who participate in such programs are approximately 1.7 times as likely as non-participating peers to have juvenile offenses such as arrests, convictions, and contacts with police1.

How could this strategy impact health disparities? This strategy is rated likely to increase disparities.

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1 Campbell-Petrosino 2013 - Petrosino A, Buehler J, Turpin-Petrosino C. Scared Straight and other juvenile awareness programs for preventing juvenile delinquency: A systematic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews. 2013:9.

2 NIJ-CrimeSolutions - National Institute of Justice (NIJ)-CrimeSolutions. All programs and practices.

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