Series / Beyond Scared Straight

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Beyond Scared Straight is an A&E reality show that follows state-sponsored programs that send at-risk teens into prison to get a glimpse of what their lives will be like if they continue down the paths they're currently on. It's based off the famous 1978 documentary, Scared Straight!


This show provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Various examples from both the teens and the inmates they meet.
  • Angry Black Man: About eighty-five percent of the inmates are this.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: The female teens are almost always start out as this.
  • Break the Cutie: The whole point of the program.
  • Break the Haughty: Most of the teens come in thinking they're tough, but they end up changing their ways after they see the harsh realities of prison.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Even as early as the 1978 special, it's been highly suspected that the inmate participants seen in these shows were probably already reformed or even "trustees". Many suggest that they were just putting on an act to put fear into these kids. The reasoning usually posits: "If they were truly as dangerous as they tried to appear, would they have even been allowed to be in the same room with kids?"
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Send prospective jail-bound teens/young adults into the very place they may one day end up?
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The inmates talk like this.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Most of the inmates have this.
  • Delinquents: The teens in the Scared Straight program start off as such and are in it, because of how close they are to serving actual jail time.
  • Downer Ending: Whenever it's revealed that any of the teens ended up in jail anyway, post-filming.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Kids whose only crime is using marijuana are treated just as harshly and get just as much camera time as kids who rob, gangbang, abuse their parents and grandparents, or commit grand theft auto.
    • One episode included a teen who had flipped over his mother's car while driving drunk and as a result killed an infant. Also in the group was a stoner kid. Guess who got the harder treatment from the inmates/guards and more camera time?
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Kids who are disrespectful to their mothers are treated "special" by the inmates.
  • Genre Savvy: Some of the teens on the show have apparently caught on to the fact that the inmates can't really follow through on their threats, since they usually spend the entirety of the tour surrounded by guards.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In contrast to above, most of the teens are so scarred by their prison visits that they turn their lives around to focus on school, jobs, and family.
  • Jerkass: Several of the teenagers are incredibly antagonistic and still refuse to change their attitude.
  • Let Me at Him!: Sometimes yelled by restrained inmates at some of the younger/prettier teens.
  • Mood Whiplash: After all the yelling and scare tactics are over, the inmates leading the group are matched one-on-one with each of the teens for a heartfelt talk.
    • Arguably, an in-show example as well. Watch how quickly the teens' demeanors turn from smug to grim.
  • No Indoor Voice: Many of the inmates scream like crazy.
  • Not So Different: Often revealed to the kids during said heartfelt talks.
  • Once an Episode: The show's limited premise makes it a bit repetitive.
  • Paper Tiger: Many of the Teens are established as having some kind of fighting experience or being fearless, with some even being MMA fighters, but when facing the inmates, most cower in fear, stay quiet or, at most, yell bombastically.
  • Parental Abandonment: Some inmates didn't have their parents around.
  • Prison Rape: Let's just say the issue comes up.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: The premise of the show.
  • Scary Black Man: The Angry Black Men are also this.
  • The Slacker: Most, if not all, of the teens just want to cruise though life. Once they get out, many of them start focusing on school and community involvement so they don't have to turn to crime.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: The teens that act all tough, but end up being afraid of the much tougher inmates count.
  • Tears of Fear: The kids will often burst out into these midway through the visit.
  • Teens Are Monsters: A lot of the kids in the program are delinquent teenagers, but there are some that continue disrespecting the inmates and cops even when they see what it's like.
  • Think of the Children!: Inverted. The guards will often force the teens to think about how their behavior is affecting their parents/guardians. Played straight if they have younger siblings.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: The program is designed in hopes of the teens turning their lives around, which many do.
  • Troubled Child: Most of the kids in the Scared Straight Program.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Either in full video or text/photo format, most of the teens' stories will be followed up on at the end of each episode.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/BeyondScaredStraight?from=Main.BeyondScaredStraight