Based upon a systematic review of the extant literature this study concludes that programs like ‘Scared Straight’ are likely to have a harmful effect and increase delinquency relative to doing nothing at all to the same youths. Given these results, we cannot recommend this program as a crime prevention strategy. Agencies that permit such programs, however, must rigorously evaluate them not only to ensure that they are doing what they purport to do (prevent crime) – but at the very least they do not cause more harm than good to the very citizens they pledge to protect.
Anthony Petrosino, John Buehler, and Carolyn Turpin-Petrosino
Campbell Collaboration, 2013