Prison Tours to Scare Delinquent Teens Straight

By Sheryl Faber
A prison tour may be just what a delinquent teen needs to get his attention.

Your teen may be causing some difficulty at home or may be beginning to stray off the straight and narrow path more and more frequently. Or you may live in an area where gangs and other bad influences are prevalent and you want your teen to be aware of what could happen if he joins them in their activities. Prison tours, complete with warnings by inmates, could be the answer to keeping your teen on the right side of the law.

Purpose

Sending your child on a tour of a prison may seem hard-core to some parents but it may be just what some may need to stay out of legal trouble. They will be exposed to the harshness of this existence, including small cells, prison food and unsavory companions. Knowing the consequences of actions before they are acted upon can be a great deterrent in keeping your teen from a life of crime.

Inmate Contributions

Many prison tours include input from current inmates who are deemed safe and empathetic enough for your child to listen to. They may appear on a prison panel of several inmates who admonish teens to watch their step and convey to the teens what their lives consist of inside prison walls, or it may be just one inmate who speaks to a group in hopes of preventing others from following his errant path.

Inmate Organizations

The inmates of some institutions take an active part in the campaign to "scare kids straight." Prisoners at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown have formed an organization, Prisoners Against Teen Tragedy, aimed at deterring teens from following lives like theirs. PATT even awards young people scholarships to a local college. They have a panel of inmates who also speak to the teens as they tour and who also give them insight as to staying within the boundaries of the law and the dire consequences if they don't.

Supplemental Information

If your child is unable to take part in a prison tour and you would like him to experience or observe much of what goes on behind prison walls, the award-winning documentary "Scared Straight" takes viewers on an inside tour of a well-known penitentiary. Viewers follow teens as they walk through the facility and speak to inmates of their experiences. The language used in this video may be offensive to some but the message of the movie is clear -- prison is not where teens want to be detained for any length of time.