Why the program was deemed to be a failure
was simply this: most of the kids weren't
scared at all. With the universal bravado
of most adolescents
, they didn't see the bad parts of prison life
to be all that horrible: after all, they reasoned, they
wouldn't be raped...only the weaklings, the old, and the stupid would do that! Being young, the rest of prison life didn't seem particularly scary either: being already in high school
and in some cases juvenile detention
the lack of freedom seemed trivial, and in some ways more liberating.
Instead, they took the cons as role models: who wouldn't want to have tattoos, be universally pheared, and live a life of crime? Even the most law-abiding of adults has, at one time, toyed with the idea of being a pirate, gentleman highwayman, or a mafioso -- the tough talk, fearsome crimes, and show of muscle sounded more like being a real-life action hero than a pathetic loser who would, most probably, never have a family or a real job. With that in mind, most of the kids told the interviewers what they wanted to hear, and turned around and did whatever they damn pleased.
Unfortunately, the public didn't get to hear this part of the story, and the legend goes on that crypto-punitive tough love programs are amazingly successful.