Monday, March 14, 2011
Jeffrey Fagan (pictured) and Aaron Kupchik (Columbia Law School and University of Delaware, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice) have posted Juvenile Incarceration and the Pains of Imprisonment on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
As a result of the movement to criminalize youth crime in the 1980s and 1990s, large numbers of incarcerated youth serve their sentences in adult correctional facilities. In an effort to understand the ramifications of this practice, prior research studies have compared the correctional experiences of youth in juvenile and adult facilities. Yet this research tends to minimize the pains of imprisonment for youth in juvenile facilities, based on the contrast to adult facilities and the toxic conditions of confinement within them. In the following article, we contribute to this literature by analyzing data from interviews with 188 young men incarcerated in juvenile and adult facilities across two states. Our results show that although inmates in adult facilities (surprisingly) give better reports than youth in juvenile facilities on several measures (including criminal activity and victimization), they also fare much worse on other measures. Importantly, the inmates in adult facilities report substantially and significantly greater rates of PTSD and mental illness symptoms, and are much more likely to be afraid for their safety, compared to those in juvenile facilities. Based on these results, we argue that incarceration should be used only as a last resort for juveniles, regardless of institutional auspice, but that when it is deemed necessary, juvenile correctional facilities represent the lesser of two evils.