The TV show entitled “Inlåst” (Locked up), premièred on Thursday and places a group of troubled youths in an adult prison, exposing them to the grim reality of incarceration.
The aim is for the group to be “scared straight” – a method applied in the USA to frighten young offenders from a life of crime.
But the Welfare Board argues that TV4 have not done their homework and cite a raft of international studies which indicate that the experience is more likely to have the opposite effect.
“Against better judgement TV4 are using a damaging method which increases the risk that the young people will destroy their futures. Will TV4 take responsibility if this occurs?” Knut Sundell, Mari Forslund and Kristin Marklund at the board write in an opinion article in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper on Friday.
They write that criminality and criminals are gaining a great deal of media exposure in Sweden today and argue that the TV4 show is just the latest attempt to cash in by “jumping on the bandwagon” despite research which indicates that the method is counter-productive.
“It is a cynical game with youths at risk.”
The series has also received criticism from the Swedish Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården) which has distanced itself from any implication that they have cooperated in the show.
“The service has nothing to do with the programme whatsoever. “Inlåst” is filmed at a decommissioned prison with cells from the 1800s,” Anne-Marie Dahlgren at the service writes in the newspaper.
Dahlgren also questions whether the method would have any positive effect.
“”Many young people try to acquire a tougher image. But we shouldn’t be fooled into it,” she writes.