Attorney General Supports Prevention for Youths Over Courts

WASHINGTON (AP) - Attorney General Eric Holder says some programs aimed at scaring troubled teens into better behavior are failing in their mission.

Speaking to county officials Monday, the attorney general said the system of juvenile justice must move away from prosecution and punishment and more toward prevention and intervention.

Holder cites a scientific review which found that children ordered into nine so-called "Scared Straight" programs around the country are nearly 30 percent more likely to offend than youths who are not.

"Scared Straight" initiatives involve visits by troubled teenagers to prisons where intimidating inmates deliver in-your-face lectures about the harshness of life behind bars.

The Attorney General says many youths who are incarcerated for non-violent offenses often emerge violent or at the very least, traumatized.