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Family Attachment and Juvenile Justice Outcomes: An Assessment of Visitation of Juvenile Delinquents in Residential Facilities

NCJ Number
Brae Campion Young; Melissa Nadel; George Pesta; William Bales
Date Published
December 2019
68 pages
Methodology and findings are presented for a study that examined the use of family visitation for youth committed to residential facilities in Florida, the likelihood that certain youth receive visitation and other forms of family contact, the potential barriers to such family visitation, and the impact of visitation on recidivism.
Specific project objectives were 1) to develop and implement a survey instrument that collects data on each visitation of youth in selected residential facilities and youths' perception of the impact of being visited or not being visited prior to release; 2) to measure the number of visits youth received, their perceptions of the impact of family visitation on their institutional experiences, family relationships, and recidivism; and 3) to determine the effect of being visited on post-release delinquency and adjudication. The study found that approximately 75 percent of the youth in the sample received at least one visit from a family member during their commitment period; on average, these youth received one visit per month. Non-visited youth indicated that distance from home and issues with transportation were the main reasons they were not visited by a family member. Most visited youth reported that both their institutional experience and their family relationships were improved because they were visited. Visited youth also anticipated that their post-release behavior would be more positive. Except for gender, analyses did not find that the effect of visitation on recidivism varied across different resident demographic characteristics. In order to facilitate family visitation, this report recommends that juvenile placement processes give higher priority to assigning youth to facilities that are near where the youth's immediate family lives. The juvenile justice system could also offer shuttle services for visitation at designated locations across the state. 24 tables, 3 figures, and 36 references