Scared Straight! (1978)

Scared Straight!





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Movie Info

Directed by Arnold Shapiro, this 1970s documentary brought 17 juvenile delinquents to a maximum security New Jersey prison and left them to spend the day with some of the most notoriously dangerous criminals behind bars. The inmates -- who were, for the most part, serving life sentences -- offered the troubled kids a disturbingly realistic, no-holds-barred account of prison life and all of the brutality that comes with the territory. Scared Straight! won an Oscar in 1978 for Best Documentary … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Arnold Shapiro
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 26, 2003
Arnold Shapiro Productions


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Critic Reviews for Scared Straight!

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Audience Reviews for Scared Straight!

A group of juvenile criminals is berated and verbally abused by a group of hardened criminals.
At first, this documentary is just a bunch of people screaming at a group of petrified children, but by the middle of this film, there are enough levels in the convicts' threats to keep this film compelling. And the tales they tell would scare anyone straight, even though the film doesn't account for the various socio-economic realities that might drive one to crime.
Overall, there's a moment when one of the convicts is whispering, "I really want to hurt you," right into a kid's face, and that's a moment that I'll remember for a long time, and when a film has that type of effect, it's a powerful film.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


I know they do this kind of stuff all the time now, but it was shocking to see kids from the 70's going into this prison and being cursed at and threatened to be raped if they ever set foot in that prison. The dvd is good because they go back and catch up with all the kids from the movie some twenty years later.

Phillip Renke

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