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Negotiating Conditional Release: Juvenile Narratives of Repeat Incarceration

NCJ Number
Punishment & Society Volume: 8 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2006 Pages: 147-181
Mark J. Halsey
Date Published
April 2006
35 pages
This study examined the experiences of 20 juveniles (ages 15-18) in secure care in Australia regarding their conditional release and reasons for reincarceration as the basis for discussing the nature of conditional release and reasons for the high rates of return to custody.
The juveniles viewed conditional release as but another form of correctional control rather than as a pathway to more freedom and opportunity for progress in rehabilitation. The juveniles' general view was that release workers were enforcers of rules rather than facilitators of a successful transition to full release. Violations of the provisions for conditional release were significantly related to the various types of trauma experienced by the juveniles during and following the release period. Trauma could involve a physical injury or psychological stress. Another significant factor in the successful completion of conditional release was the geographic distance between the location of the programs and where the juveniles were housed. Transportation difficulties were significant in determining whether or not the juveniles complied with rules for program participation. Commitment to and interest in the activities that composed conditional release were also important factors in success. Findings indicate that the system of conditional release is built around consequences for bad behavior rather than rewards and reinforcement for positive behaviors. Neither is there a strong effort to identify and counter the obstacles and impediments to the development of positive behavior and involvement in constructive interests that have the power to replace the attraction and habits of criminal lifestyles. The adverse experiences of conditional release have caused most of those interviewed to prefer completing their sentence in secure care to be followed by full release without conditions. 1 table, 17 notes, and 87 references