Beyond Scared Straight

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by susiestar, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    A&E has a new series that starts tonight at 10/9 central. It is called Beyond Scared Straight and takes kids who act like "stone cold killers" and puts them in jail with real stone cold killers. it is supposed to go beyond the scared straight one day programs to help change the lives of kids headed down the wrong path.

    I have mixed feelings about this. I can see that it might help some kids, esp if there is some type of support once the program ends. OTOH, do these kids need any help learning about criminal life?

    I wondered what all of you thought about this? Is it something that you would watch? Would you consider it if you had a child going down that path?
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I vividly remember watching Scared Straight. Have no idea how many years ago that was but I remember. It made me very uncomfortable. Although I don't see anyway that it would positively reenforce criminal behaviors I have never read any followup reports that it altered the course of life for the teens on the show. Furthermore on the original program there were teens who had very limited histories of criminal behavior. It was, to me, overkill. It also seemed to be a major violation of the teenagers privacy.

    In answer to your question I will not watch this new program. Sitting on the sofa with a glass of tea watching teens get humiliated and intimidated would probably make me barf. DDD
  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Well-Known Member

    I don't think so.

    The alt school Onyxx was at - I had problems with it, b/c she learned how to score drugs, where to hide them, and how to avoid getting in trouble with the law. She became MUCH worse while there. So... Yeah, sure. Teach her more! Uh-unh.
  4. donna723

    donna723 Active Member

    I'm anxious to watch this and see how it stacks up with the program we had where I used to work. I recently retired after spending the last 24 years working in a Close Security mens' State prison. We used to do this about once a month and it was VERY effective but they ended up discontinuing the program because the lawyers were afraid of liability issues, etc. It's a shame too because it really seemed to get to them where sometimes nothing else did. The groups of kids referred to us came on buses and spent one whole day with us. Some were referred by the courts, some were from several wilderness programs in the area, some from various juvenile facilities - all were considered to be "at risk" kids. Some were very cocky and arrogant because they had been in juvenile facilities and considered themselves to be tough, but some were afraid to even get out of the bus in the parking lot! The "tough" ones soon learned that being in the "big boy jail" is nothing like being in "juvy"!

    They would take them into the conference room and give them a run down on where they would go on their tour, explained the rules - don't talk to the inmates, don't touch anything, stay with the group - they were not anxious to violate THAT rule - there were no "stragglers". They were then searched, patted down, and taken down to the compound (where the inmates are) by several prison officials. AT NO TIME were they ever allowed to talk to the inmates or even get close to any of them. But it was funny ... the inmates could spot these groups a mile away and did their part by hooting and hollering and whistling at them, trying their best to frighten them, and the kids were so scared, they'd end up practically velcroed to their counselors and our staff! They took them on a complete tour of the prison, let them see what it's like to work in a prison kitchen or laundry. They learned what it's like to have every minute of your life regulated, being told when to eat, when to sleep, when to shower. Around lunchtime they'd take them down to the maximum security building so they could see what's it's like to be locked in a cell 23 hours a day. Then (if they had enough open cells) they would lock them each in a vacant cell to eat lunch so they could see what it was like to eat all your meals from a styrofoam tray with a plastic spork in a little 8'x10' concrete room. And a few of the ones with "attitude", they'd kind of forget to let them out of the cell for a while, waiting till they were on the verge of panic setting in. And it worked!

    After spending the day like that, they'd bring them back up to the conference room for a "question and answer" session with four or five v-e-r-y carefully selected inmates. These were all really good inmates who all were eager to participate in this, guys who genuinely wanted to help, ones who would talk to the kids without pulling any punches, but they also managed to select ones who were very threatening looking ... the more tattoos the better. These were some of our very best, most trustworthy inmates but those kids didn't know that! They told these kids how they were just like them when they were kids, where they were headed, and what it's really like to walk in their shoes! They told them how it was to have nothing to look forward to but spending the rest of their life in prison, how the path they had chosen had destroyed their own lives, their victims lives, and the lives of their families. If this didn't get to those kids, nothing would. Every last one of them were shaken to their shoes! And I think it really did make a big difference! It may not have turned all of them around, but some of them it definately did! All programs may not be operated the way that ours was but I thought it was a WONDERFUL program and we were all very sorry to see it discontinued.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Donna, it sounds like your program was well thought out and executed. I can accept and believe that there are benefits for
    some teens. My problem with the television programs is that (based on the original) some of the kids did not have a history that warranted the program and to me it is abhorrent to show real kids on television. Those of us who have had GFG's know that labeling in the community is a huge deficit. Going on National television?? Sorry I think that is exploitive. DDD
  6. donna723

    donna723 Active Member

    No, our program certainly didn't reach all of them, but I really think that for some, at least a few that might have been on the fence, it did make a big difference. The kids who came through our program all had serious juvenile records and for some of them it was seen as a last ditch effort, a wake up call, to let them see where they were headed and to show them that this is not where they wanted to end up! It was a very humbling experience for most of them, a painful dose of reality.

    As far as showing it all on national television - no, I can't even imagine that! For one thing, they are all juveniles and usually not even their names are released in the news or in the papers, much less putting them on national TV!
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Donna, your program sounds awesome. Not everyone in a prison is as awful as the stereotypes. My stepMIL has worked in prisons with Choice and Reality therapy programs (she was trained by Dr. Glasser and works through his institute) and has taught it to people who work in prisons worldwide. She also has worked with inmates themselves at both men's and women's facilities. I haven't been able to touch base with her on this program, but I think she will have mixed feelings too. have you heard of those programs? (Just curious)

    This is supposed to go beyond the 1 day scared straight programs like your facilities ran. I don't know that televising this is a good choice, but I am sure each family had their reasons. It wouldn't work with everyone, but I cannot help but wonder if it would have a positive effect on any of the young adults in the long run. Many times the kids who go through scared straight programs, even good ones like your work ran, are deeply impacted at the time but are able to forget or figure that it won't happen to them (teens are all 10 ft tall and bulletproof, don't ya know - just ask them!) and the effects are not long lasting. When combined with other therapy programs they have a MUCH better chance of success, but otherwise they just are not effective in the long run. So maybe this will help someone.

    I just don't know that this is an appropriate thing to present as entertainment, if that aspect of the show will harm the kids.
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Moderator Staff Member

    I begged for a scared straight program with Cory. Ha. None to be had. I wanted to throw him in with the biggest and the baddest for at least a day...heck...even a couple of hours. Especially after his 5 day juvy experience when he came out saying it was easy! That was the last thing I needed to hear. I wanted fear. I was mortified by juvy...he thought it was a vacation. Sigh. I wanted Big Bad Bubba in his face, backing him into a wall telling him to bend over and pick up the soap!
  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'm veering off target a bit...can't help myself, lol. Evidently thousands of people "hate Kate" because she "exploits" her children with the Kate Plus Eight show. Nobody rants about the program ?? 18 and counting or whatever it is called. I haven't heard a bit of flack about Palin's Alaska using her kids. Weird. So now a group of unrelated GFG's are going to be on a television show that includes their recitation of past offenses. Sorry...I don't get it. DDD
  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I fully agree with you, DDD. The exploitation of Kate's kids is nuts - what job could she get that would let her support the kids as a single parent and still provide the kind of hands-on parenting that a brood that size (esp of all the same age kids) requires. Why isn't it a problem wehn the 19+ people or Sarah palin do it? The family from 19+ are "preachy", aka using this to show and spread their religious values. Heck, that Sister Wives show got criticism b/c the polygamy but not for the exploitation of the kids. THOSE kids were held up as curiousities, imo - FAR more than the Gosselin kids. All the interviews about the family style that they had no say in was vastly more exploitive than watching a bunch of kids play in the yard or go to Disneyland or whatever.

    I hadn't looked at it in that context, but you have a good point.
  11. donna723

    donna723 Active Member

    "I wanted fear. I was mortified by juvy...he thought it was a vacation. Sigh. I wanted Big Bad Bubba in his face, backing him into a wall telling him to bend over and pick up the soap!"

    That's EXACTLY why they do those programs! They do them to show those kids who think juvy is a "vacation" that a real adult prison is nothing like juvy and that it's a place they do NOT want to end up in. It doesn't reach them all but it does get to some of them. I'll never forget one group of kids that came ... one of our veteran counselors was escorting them down to the compound and the inmates started yelling and whistling. One boy was snickering because he assumed that they were whistling at their female teacher who came with them. The counselor stopped him dead in his tracks and said, "You think they're whistling at her? They're whistling at YOU, boy!!!" The kid went white as a sheet, looked like he was going to cry, and practically glued himself to the staff the whole time he was there.

    I did watch the show last night, the one filmed at the womens prison. And as scary and as threatening as those women looked - that's why they picked them! I can guarantee you that none of them were "problem inmates" or they wouldn't be allowed to participate in the program. They were intense and threatening with the girls because they needed to be to get through to them. You have to remember that they were there because they were the ones who cared enough to try to set these kids straight and to keep them from following in their footsteps. The only thing that really surprised me was that the one girl was allowed to participate in the program in the same prison where her mother was incarcerated.
  12. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Yikes, Donna. That is shocking. I've never thought for a minute that they were endangered by inmates. It's the kids public identification that bugs me. DDD
  13. donna723

    donna723 Active Member

    I'm sure the parents or guardians had to give their consent, both for them to participate in the program and to be shown on the TV show. I'm not sure of the wisdom of doing this with teenagers (putting them on national TV) but I got the impression that most of those parents were so desperate at that point, they would have tried anything.
  14. 1012diana1019

    1012diana1019 New Member

    if this is the program to sign them up please help my mother in law her son jonathan wont listen goes to who knows where does drugs and she doesnt know what to do and her yugher son seems to be following in the others footsteps she doesnt know what to do and her husband isnt much help please help her contact me at xxx xxx xxxx
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2011
  15. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    Diana you need to get your number and the kids name off this public forum. You don't know who will call you and it won't be to help. If you want to post on the general parenting forum I'm sure lots of the people here would be a great help to you. This isn't a place to sign up for the scared straight program. It is a wonderful place for advice and venting on how to raise very hard kids.

    If there isn't an edit button at the bottom of your post you could contact a moderator for help. Good luck to your mil.
  16. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I happened upon the show last night while flipping through channels so I watched a bit of it. I think it may be helpful for the right kid and I would ONLY use it for those kids who have gone through the system, just are "Not getting it", and truly have hardened his/her heart to society's rules. A remark that one of the kids said that is important to understand, "But I am not going to jail." These kids don't think they will ever get to the point where they will be put in jail so for them, jail life is not a consequence. They know they are safe through this program. Do the looks and words from the inmates really intimidate them? Yes, they might and they may make them feel uncomfortable but they know they will not be placed amongst the inmates and left there. These boys are so hardened by the time they get to that point. They are trying so hard to keep it together and pretend they are still tough. We can not tell what they were really thinking. They have survival skills in place to put up walls between them and words they don't want to hear. Did the information get past their "I gotta stay tough" mentality and get them thinking? I hope so.

    For those kids who have been identified as high risk of doing crimes, I don't see anything wrong with this type of program. The boys looked so strong and tough but I wonder, did the process really reach them? They are not going to let the camera and inmates and other boys know that it was an eye opener but maybe it did get them to start thinking and maybe one day when they are old enough for adult time and are facing the choice of turning their lives around or going to jail they will choose to work a program to head in the direction they really want to go toward. Maybe they will remember what the prison visit was like?

    I often thought that there should be a program in which kids could visit the chemical dependency part of the state hospital system to see where a life focused on drinking and doing drugs would lead. However, just like this show, young people just can not picture themselves in that situation. You will always hear, "Not going to happen to me so why do I need this? I can stop whenever I want. I am in control."
  17. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Moderator Staff Member

    I really was impressed by they show last night wth the younger croup of kids out in sand Diego I thin? I think the kids ere anywhere from 11-14.

    These kids clamined to be involved with gangs, dealing drugs, fighting, skipping school, drugs, drinking, using weapons, tagging and graffiti. Probably much more. On this show, there were both male and female kids together. One was a set of 14 yr old black twin girls. Boy were they a handful! Should say they were a double handful...lol.

    They had the inmates making them shaking in their shoes! Sniveling stupid lil fools. Actually out of that whole group who went through, only two of them seemed to be doing not well and of those two, only one had completely dropped out and turned his back on it for good. The other little girl is still being mentored by a lady from the jail as a big sister.
  18. JJJ

    JJJ New Member

    I hate "reality tv" so I never watch it.

    I think Juvy needs to be totally redone in our coutry. It needs to be both more severe and more therapeutic. A very strict schedule, limited interaction with other kids, no tv/radio/etc, physical exercise limited to basic cardio work -- no bball games! The juvy school needs more teachers so that the kids can get direct instruction in a group no bigger than 3 as nearly all of them are behind in school or have LDs. They need to have daily therapy - individual and eventually small group focused on making good choices, anger management, theory of mind, etc. They also need life skills training as many of them (not all) will go back to dysfunctional homes and even those with greatt warrior parents aren't listening to their parents (or they wouldn't be in juvy!). Spiritual guidence should also be offered in their chosen faith.

    We need to reach as many of these kids as possible. Too many are just slipping away....