Scared straight! profiles a unique juvenile crime-prevention program at New Jersey's Rahway maximum-security prison, recounting the day seventeen teenage lawbreakers spent inside the prison with the some of New Jersey's most dangerous criminals. In an attempt to scare the kids out of their criminal ways, prisoners took turns describing prison life, emphasizing it's worst features. Scared straight! 20 years later traces the subsequent lives of the teens and convicts featured in the original documentary.