Program

Dec 12, 2007

OVERVIEW

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).TheInsiders Juvenile Crime Prevention
Program: An Assessment of a Juvenile Awareness Program
. Research and Reporting Unit, Division of Program Development and
Evaluation, Virginia
Department of
Corrections.

Evaluated population: A total of 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

References:

Orchowsky, S. & Taylor, K. (1981).TheInsiders Juvenile Crime Prevention Program: An Assessment of a Juvenile
Awareness Program
. Research and Reporting Unit,
Division of Program Development and Evaluation, Virginia Department
of Corrections.

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.