Program

Aug 31, 2007

OVERVIEW

The San Quentin Squires Program is a juvenile delinquency
deterrence program that brings delinquent youth to San Quentin Prison in California and exposes
them to the realities of prison life. In a random assignment study, boys
assigned to take part in the Squires Program were compared with boys assigned
to a control group. The program had some positive impacts on boys’
attitudes toward crime and police, but it did not have an impact on boys’
delinquent behavior. Over the course of the year following the Squires
Program, there was no significant difference between boys assigned to the
treatment group and boys assigned to the control group on subsequent
arrests. Furthermore, there were no significant differences between
groups on number of subsequent charges, type of charges, or severity of
charges.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: delinquent youth

The San Quentin Squires Program began in 1964 and is
described as the oldest juvenile awareness program in the United States.
The program brings delinquent youth to San Quentin Prison in California and exposes them to the realities
of prison life. Participants interact with inmates, are guided through
the prison, and are exposed to photos of prison violence.

The program takes place over the course of three consecutive
Saturday mornings. Each session includes a three-hour rap group, at
which, each participant receives personal attention from an inmate. The
inmate educates the participant about prison life and prompts the participant
to discuss his criminal offenses, his reasons for committing those offenses,
his family, and his education. Language is often rough, but no overt
scare tactics are used.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Lewis, R. V. (1983).Scared
Straight – California
Style: Evaluation of the San Quentin Squires Program. Criminal Justice
and Behavior, 10
(2), 209-225.

Evaluated population: 108 boys between the ages of 14
and 18 served as the study sample for this investigation. Boys were
residents at juvenile probation camps in Los Angeles
and Contra Costa, California.

Approach: The boys were randomly assigned to either
the treatment group or the control group. All boys were administered an
attitudinal assessment one week prior to the commencement of the Squires
Program. Boys assigned to the treatment group attended three Squires
Program sessions. Boys assigned to the control group attended no
sessions. The attitudinal assessment was re-administered to all boys one
week after the program’s completion. Over the
course of the following year, all boys had their criminal charges and arrests
monitored.

Results: Analysis of attitudinal assessments revealed
that boys assigned to the Squires Program had significantly less delinquent
attitudes at follow-up than did boys assigned to the control group on a variety
of measures. Relative to control boys, treatment boys had shown
improvement on attitudes toward police, attitudes toward crime, and on a
composite index of delinquent attitudes. Treatment boys did not improve
significantly more than control boys on their attitudes toward school or
prison, however.

Over the course of the year following the Squires Program,
there was no significant difference between boys assigned to the treatment
group and boys assigned to the control group on subsequent arrests. The
majority of boys from each group were arrested within a year of the
program. Furthermore, there were no significant differences between
groups on number of subsequent charges, type of charges, or severity of
charges. On average, treatment boys were out on parole for almost a month
longer than control boys before being arrested (4.1 months vs. 3.3 months), but
this did constitute a significant difference between groups.

Subgroup analyses suggested that the Squires Program may
have benefited moderately delinquent youth, but that it may have adversely
impacted high risk delinquents.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Lewis, R. V. (1983).Scared
Straight – California
Style: Evaluation of the San Quentin Squires Program. Criminal Justice
and Behavior, 10
(2), 209-225.

KEYWORDS: Adolescence (12-17), Youth (16+), High-Risk,
Juvenile Offenders, High School, Gender-specific (male only), Clinic-based,
Mentoring, Behavioral Problems, Delinquency, Violence, Conduct Problems,
Aggression

Program information last updated on 8/31/07