A Scared Straight program (also known as a Juvenile Awareness Program or Juvenile Awareness Project) is a program that attempts to use shock to stop teenagers from committing crimes. They are the primary focus of Scared Straight!, Scared Straight '99 and Beyond Scared Straight. Other shows and songs reference this type of program as well.


The U.S. Justice Department discourages the use of Scared Straight programs.[1] An op-ed by Laurie O. Robinson and the OJJDP's acting administrator Jeff Slowikowski, backs up the discouragement.[2] The Campbell Collaboration has found that they are not effective.[3]

In April 1978, James Finckenauer, a professor of the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice, began a test of the Scared Straight program, using a control group, something that had not been done previously.[4] His study concluded that children who attended Rahway were more likely to commit crimes than those who did not.[5]


  1. "Justice Department Discourages the Use of "Scared Straight" Programs"
  2. "Scary—and Ineffective: Traumatizing At-Risk Kids Is Not the Way To Lead Them Away From Crime and Drugs"
  3. "'Scared straight' and other juvenile programs for preventing juvenile delinquency"
  4. "Black Box Thinking" by Mathew Syed (Penguin Random House)(2015)(ISBN: 978-1-59184-822-6)
  5. "Scientifically Unsupported and Supported Interventions for Childhood Psychopathology: A Summary" (3/1/2005)

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