JUVENILE CRIME PREVENTION PROGRAM
The Insiders Juvenile Crime Prevention Program is a juvenile delinquency deterrence program that brings delinquent youth to the Virginia State Penitentiary and exposes them to the realities of prison life. In a random assignment study, boys assigned to take part in the Insiders program were compared with boys assigned to a control group. The Insiders program had no impact on subjects' criminal behavior during the first six months after subjects' exposure to the program. However, positive program impacts appeared at the nine- and twelve-month follow-ups. Among subjects with nine-month and twelve-month follow-up data, treatment subjects had significantly fewer court intakes and significantly lower delinquency involvement scores than did control subjects.
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM
Target population: juvenile offenders between the ages of 13 and 20
The Insiders Juvenile Crime Prevention Program is a "Scared Straight"-style program run by the inmates at the Virginia State Penitentiary. The program demonstrates the realities of prison life to youthful offenders in an effort to deter them from a life of crime and incarceration.
To be eligible for participation in the Insiders program, an individual must be between the ages of 13 and 20 and have been judged guilty of a delinquent offense at least twice. Participants visit the Virginia State Penitentiary in groups of 15 or fewer. They are locked in a cell, informed about the daily routine of an inmate, and exposed to explicit lectures from inmates. Inmates' lectures focus on issues such as the loss of identity and loss of freedom associated with prison life, as well as the murder, drugs, gangs, and homosexual rape that occur within prison. Lectures include verbal intimidation, harsh language, and harassment (in the form of inmates taking away participants' shirts or shoes and challenging them to retrieve them).
EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM
Orchowsky, S. & Taylor, K. (1981). The Insiders Juvenile Crime Prevention
Program: An Assessment of a Juvenile Awareness Program. Research and Reporting Unit, Division of Program Development and
Evaluated population: 80 juvenile delinquents from three southeast Virginia Court Service Units served as the study sample for this investigation. All subjects were males between the ages of 13 and 20 who had been judged guilty of a delinquent act at least twice. 73% of subjects were black; 27% were white.
Approach: Juvenile delinquents were randomly assigned to the treatment group or the control group. Subjects assigned to the treatment group visited the Virginia State Penitentiary and took part in the Insiders program between November 1979 and May 1980. Subjects assigned to the control group did not take part in the Insiders program.
Treatment subjects completed an attitudinal questionnaire immediately after taking part in the Insiders program. Control subjects completed a similar questionnaire at a meeting with their probation counselor. All subjects had their criminal behavior monitored through the end of 1980. (Some subjects took part in the Insiders program earlier than others. Data collection continued for at least six months after the last subjects participated in the program. Thus, all 80 subjects have six-month follow-up data; 47 subjects have nine-month follow-up data; and 36 subjects have one-year follow-up data.)
Results: Immediately after participating in the Insiders program, treatment subjects completed an attitudinal measure. On this measure, the vast majority of subjects indicated that they had listened to what the inmates had to say and believed what the inmates had told them. Control subjects completed a similar measure at baseline. Comparisons between the two groups revealed that subjects who had been exposed to the Insiders program were significantly more likely than control subjects to agree with the statement "If I don't stop getting into trouble, I'll end up in prison someday." Treatment subjects were not any more likely than control subjects to agree with the statement, "I don't think I will get into anymore trouble ever again," however.
Analyses of court records revealed that the Insiders program had no impact on subjects' criminal behavior during the first six months after subject exposure to the program. During these six months, treatment subjects averaged 0.5 court intakes and had an average delinquency involvement score of 18.5. During this same time period, control subjects averaged 0.6 intakes and had an average delinquency involvement score of 29.2. Though these differences favor treatment subjects, neither difference is statistically significant.
Positive program impacts appeared when nine-month and twelve-month follow-up data were analyzed, however. During the nine months after exposure to the Insiders program, treatment subjects averaged 0.5 court intakes and had an average delinquency score of 18.7. During these nine months, control subjects averaged 1.0 intakes and had an average delinquency score of 52.1. These differences were statistically significant. This impact persisted to the one-year mark for subjects with follow-up data through this time point.
Additional analyses revealed that the program had no negative impacts on subjects who committed no offenses during the six months prior to the program's commencement. Among these subjects, treatment subjects were no more likely to commit an offense during the six months after the program than were control subjects.
Note: Analyses were not designed to adjust for the effect of clustering within court service units..
SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION
Orchowsky, S. & Taylor, K. (1981). The
Insiders Juvenile Crime Prevention Program: An Assessment of a Juvenile
Awareness Program. Research and Reporting Unit,
Division of Program Development and Evaluation,
Program categorized in this guide according to the following:
Evaluated participant ages: 13-20
Program age ranges in the guide: Adolescence, Youth
Program components: Miscellaneous
Measured outcomes: Behavioral Problems
KEYWORDS: Juvenile Offenders, Delinquency, Behavioral Problems, Adolescence (12-17), Young Adulthood (17-24), Adolescents, Youth, Young Adults, Gender Specific (Male Only), Black or African American, White or Caucasian, Conduct Problems.
Program information last updated on 12/12/07.
© Child Trends 2004