CHARLOTTE – From in your face confrontations to a first hand look at extreme “take down' maneuvers, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office takes center stage this week in the new season of “Beyond Scared Straight” on the A&E channel.
The county's "Reality" program showcases the department's gritty, no holds barred approach at preventing today's troubled teens from becoming tomorrow's prisoners.
"We want them to be scared out of their wits when they come through here," said program supervisor Sgt. Karen McRae.
Over the years, she's shown hundreds of at-risk students, ages 9 to 16, what's waiting for them if they keep causing trouble.
"As soon as we separate them from their parents, that's when we start getting all the crying and the screaming,” she said.
"We are in charge and everything you do while you're in our jail, we control it," added Sheriff Chipp Bailey.
He says producers selected Mecklenburg County for its hour-and-a-half premier to show the country a strategy that seems to be working.
Of the program's last 230 participants, only 3 ended up in trouble with the law.
"A lot of young people get in trouble and we have a gang problem here in Charlotte,” said Bailey. “But what we're trying to do is say if that happens, this is where you're going to be and you're not going to like it.”
Organizers hope the episodes will hit home and inspire communities and school districts around the country to step in and help.
The program is run entirely by deputies volunteering their time, alongside screened inmates wanting to help area youth.
The new season of 'Beyond Scared Straight' premiers Thursday night at 10 p.m. on A&E.