Can students be scared straight?
My colleague Nick Madigan attended a meeting this week where Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy talked to students from Robert Poole Middle School about the criminal justice system. Five of the students' classmates are on trial in connection with a December incident where two passengers on a city bus were brutally attacked while the kids were riding home from school.
The session was trying to get the students "scared straight," giving them a tour of former juvenile holding cells. Yet only a few of them raised their hands when Jessamy asked who would commit to avoiding a life of crime. One of the boys readily confessed that he'd been locked up before.
In response to his story, Nick got a number of e-mails from readers suggesting that all city students be given the opportunity to witness what the kids at Robert Poole did. And Jessamy said she conducts such sessions regularly. But clearly, the students from Poole are already incredibly jaded by middle school. Is it too late to scare them off from engaging in crime? To those of you who work in the city, do you think a "scared straight" program would be effective with your students?