How wouldn’t a trip to the pokey scare kids straight?

Does anyone ever watch the show “Scared Straight?”

If you don’t know the show, it’s the one where parents send their kids to programs at prisons to try and scare the hell out of them and get them on the right track. It seems to work most of the time, at least for the ones they choose to focus in on.

I am an avid watcher of this show. It’s amazing some of these things these kids have done and act all high and mighty. And the list of things some of these kids have done is incredibly long. It seems, however, that it’s often involving much of the same thing — drugs, assault, fighting, stealing, anger issues and other things related to those.

The kids often come in with chips on their shoulders. They are defiant. But, when you have guards and criminals up in your face and screaming, usually they break down and start crying.

Most seem to be scared straight.

There are updates at the end of the show, telling how the people they focused on are doing. But you have to wonder how it is now — way beyond the show and the “latest” updates.

One thing I’ve noticed is you can usually pick out the ones who might not get on the right path. And it’s a shame. Personally, if i got put one of those programs when I was 15, I would have been super scared straight. It makes me wonder what these kids are thinking when they act all defiant.

If you were young and taken to the hokie to scare you straight … how wouldn’t this do the trick? (photo via kconnors at MorgueFile)

Let’s look at reality — those inmates would eat those kids for dinner.

It is interesting to watch some transformations, though.

A few weeks ago, they had a show where a girl was in the program. She seemed to be from an affluent life, was a pretty girl and had a lot going. Alas, she loved her weed. And she lied and manipulated. In fact, she said at the beginning of the show how she thought the show was fake — it was a reality show. So it was going to be a breeze.

Oh how she found out things didn’t work that way.

There was the show where two kids were in the group and they saw somebody they knew, who turned out to be the one kid’s stepfather and the other kid’s uncle.

That jarred them and hopefully put them on the right path.

Jail isn’t a fun place, else we’d all be banging down the door to get in.

Growing up, my father was the town’s chief of police. The county jail was an old, beat-up building (It’s now a state-of-the-art facility). When I was somewhere between the age of 10-12, my father took me to the jail.

It wasn’t the same idea as Scared Straight. It’s not like he allowed inmates to get in my face and yell, make me cry or anything like that. He just wanted to give me the idea of what could happen if you made the wrong choices.

I walked some of the cells with him and saw the situation. He put me in an empty cell. It felt awful. Needless to say, I haven’t been back. I’ve had friends in the hokey before and I can’t even visit because it freaks me out.

There was one other time I got the feel of what jail was like. I was on a junior Legion baseball team and we were on the road. The place we were playing (Deposit, for those who are local and might be able to picture the field and setup) was at the end of a dead-end road because it’s in front of a school.

A few of us were throwing behind our bench, not far from a berm. We heard sirens approaching and saw somebody speeding down the road. The car tried to stop, but slammed into the berm. Two guys got out, got to the top of the berm and started running. A state trooper followed and was on their tail yelling “Stop, or I’ll shoot!”

I think the trooper realized where he was so he just kept warning. Once he got beyond the field and were in a residential area, the warnings ceased. He shot and got one of the guy right in the ass.


The other got away, but apparently turned himself in soon after.

Not long after this incident, I was riding my bike and came to the county jail. The “exercise” area was a fenced-in space next to the road. I stopped because I knew the deputy working. I explained my story and he pointed to a guy on the opposite side of the exercise area. He was on crutches and you could tell the butt didn’t feel well.

It made me realize it doesn’t matter what happens to you, you’re still going to jail if you mess up.

I’m not saying I’ve been perfect in life. I’ve done some stupid things, but I’ve always tried to walk the straight line. It’s just not worth it. I hope in this life I’ve made smart decisions (well, outside of my original choice of career — but that won’t get me sent to jail) and I continue to do so.

Hopefully kids who go through these programs do the same, because jail — especially if heading to state prison — is no country club.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Sports writer and live in upstate New York. This place is a spot for me just to throw my thoughts. I'm into writing, photography, travel, softball, geocaching, good beer and a good cigar at times. And no matter what anyone says, baseball is the greatest game ever invented.

8 thoughts on “How wouldn’t a trip to the pokey scare kids straight?”

  1. The bad thing is there are kids that use going to jail as a status symbol, a pride filled one. I don’t get it. I don’t get our society a lot lately.
    But one thing I do get is that I get some really morbid enjoyment of watching some of these idiot kids breakdown. Maybe I see it as “here’s your humble pie” moment or maybe I just know I was a screw up when younger and if I had been through something like that I’d probably saved myself a few years of idiocy.
    Jonna recently posted..Missionary DashCam Lip SyncingMy Profile

    1. Agreed on the status symbol. I can’t figure that out. I also like to see the kids break down. And it’s my hope they realize they’d break down more than that if they were in the hokey full time.

  2. My dad was a cop in San Francisco. I think cop’s kids have a different view of things. Most of my friends in high school shoplifted stuff. I never did. I wasn’t “perfect” but I did have a healthy respect for police. (As an adult, I realize sometimes I gave the cops too much credit!) I feel sorry for troubled kids and their families. Still, I’m not sure showing a kid that smokes weed a crack house would change their perspectives.
    Linda Medrano recently posted..I’m A Gucci Girl In A Payless WorldMy Profile

    1. That’s very possibly so. I was always afraid to do a lot of things because everybody knew who I was. I knew if I messed up too bad, my father would know about it.

  3. And unfortunately, what it all boils down to is what is the kid’s home life like? I would be willing to bet that most of the kids that end up in jail don’t have a very stable home life. For the ones who do have a stable home life, they’re just stupid and throwing what is really good in their life away, sort of like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
    Paul Myers recently posted..More tech, less paperMy Profile

    1. While I agree the home life can be bad, some of the kids on these shows have better home lives than many people. It’s falling in with the wrong crowd, which is unfortunate.

  4. The problem with our jails here in the US, (which statistics show that we have the most percentage of people behind bars of any country), we treat it as a time-out. People go in, spend time there, then get released. Most people really don’t get scared straight, since our prison system is a revolving door program. There isn’t enough treatment, there aren’t enough people getting the help they need (especially when it comes to drug related offenses), so they leave and go back to the life as they knew it, which puts them back in jail eventually.
    To some, jail is a status symbol. Its like a scar they wear to show that they are tough. Rappers constantly like to show off that they have been locked up, as a sort of right-of-passage. Then young people look to them, and emulate them.
    And people end up in prison for stupid things. I’ve almost been in jail myself, simply for a paperwork mix up. No wonder our prisons are over crowded.

    1. I’m not sure I agree with the timeout thing, Jason. I think I know where you are going with the thought, but I’m not sure what else we could do? Everything in this country costs money. It’s bad enough the amount the taxpayers have to foot for prisons and all that. But should we now pay for people to go to rehab? Why should criminals get that treatment, but the everyday Joe who is trying to get clean has to pay a ton? Jail isn’t supposed to be a fun place. Revolving door or not, that’s how it is. Do the crime, do the time. And if you go back, so be it.

      As for the status symbol, that’s without a doubt true in some places. I’ve never understood that because it’s not a place I think I’d ever want to be. I’m not sure I’d survive a day, let alone a long sentence.
      P.J. recently posted..Train comingMy Profile

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