"Scared Straight": Ideology and the media

Gray Cavender

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


One of the more widely publicized presentations about crime is "Scared Straight," a documentary about a program in which juveniles visit inmates in a New Jersey penitentiary. It is the contention of this article that this film and the accompanying media coverage of it convey an ideology message concerning crime and criminals. Crime is presented as a matter of individual choice that has little relationship to any social variables. Criminals are portrayed in a one-dimensional manner as evil, vicious, and barely human. The documentary is a success because these images of crime and criminals conform to existing stereotypes. Based on these distorted images, the film and media coverage "market" a simplistic solution to crime that is compatible with their presentation of the crime problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-439
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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