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Review: “Scared Straight” and other juvenile awareness programmes increase criminal behaviour

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QUESTION: In children who have been, or are at risk of being, adjudicated or convicted by a juvenile court, do programmes using organised prison visits designed to deter criminal behaviour (eg, “Scared Straight” programme) reduce offending activity?

Data sources

Studies were identified by handsearching 29 criminology or social science journals; searching 16 electronic databases (including the trial registers of the Cochrane Collaboration and the Campbell Collaboration); scanning references in relevant reviews, bibliographies, books, articles, and other documents; and contacting experts in the field.

Study selection

Published or unpublished studies were selected if they were randomised or quasi-randomised controlled trials, the intervention included a visit to prison for …

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  • For correspondence: Dr A Petrosino, Research Consultant, Chelmsford, MA, USA. anthony_petrosino{at}

  • Source of funding: Smith-Richardson Foundation.