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Scared Straight! (1978)

 |  Crime, Documentary  |  1978 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 599 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 9 critic

The filmed depiction of a program where convicts tell troubled kids about the horrors of prison life.



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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Himself - Host
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Doug Cronin


This film shows the Scared Straight program that has hardened convicts from maximum security prisons tell their stories about the truth about prison life in order to convince kids that no crime is worth the risk of being incarcerated Written by Kenneth Chisholm <>

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Crime | Documentary

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1978 (USA)  »

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Was broadcast uncensored when aired on television in the late 1970s. For many commercial broadcasters, this was the first time the f-word was willingly allowed on TV. See more »


Ali: I'm here for murder, kidnappin', robbery, armed-robbery, conspiracy, breakin' the dude's jaw and breakin' his fuckin' woman's both her gottdam arms! But fuck what's happenin' to me! It's whats' happenin' to juveniles we're concerned about.
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Referenced in Scarecrow (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

15 September 2001 | by (Pittsburgh, PA) – See all my reviews

A documentary that you will never forget once you see it, Scared Straight ought to be required viewing in every high school. As narrator Peter Falk points outs at the being of the film, it at first seems too good to be true that three hours in prison will make young trouble makers change their ways, but the subsequent prison visit shows that it is possible to change young lives in such a short time. The confrontation between the inmates and kids is riveting; you hang on to every word, and feel the tension in the room even while watching it on video. The change in the kids sent on the prison visit is astonishing, as shown in the interviews taped before and after the trip to Rahway. Before the trip, the kids all brag about their crimes and think they will never get caught; the interviews taken after the prison visit shows how effective the program was for each of them. Scared Straight is a powerful film; the setting and language will be offensive to some, but it is exactly those elements which make it such a forceful production. Though made back in the 1970s, it is still important and timely viewing.

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