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Views From the Inside: Young Offenders' Subjective Experiences of Incarceration

NCJ Number
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology Volume: 52 Issue: 5 Dated: October 2008 Pages: 584-597
Peter J. Ashkar; Dianna T. Kenny
Date Published
October 2008
14 pages
Incarceration experiences of 16 adolescent males in a maximum-security detention facility were examined.
The incarceration experiences of the adolescent detainees were characterized by a prison culture of bullying, substance use, and antagonism with youth workers; inadequate service provision and a lack of rehabilitative programming; and a sense of loss through reduced autonomy and dislocation from important others. These experiences gave rise to a range of negative feelings and emotions, promoted thinking about past behaviors and future objectives, and placed detainees into a state of readiness for positive change. Deterrent and rehabilitative effects of incarceration were reflected in the affective and cognitive experiences of the detainees. Rehabilitative programming should take advantage of this opportunity by providing proper treatment for young offenders when they are incarcerated. Previous studies demonstrate that bullying, substance use, violence, trauma, loneliness, and psychological distress feature in the incarceration experiences of offenders. Less is known about young offenders’ experiences in the incarceration setting and how the incarceration experience affects their behavior. This study explored the impact of incarceration on young offenders’ behaviors and intentions to reoffend. It aimed to describe young offenders’ subjective, affective, and cognitive experiences of incarceration; identify the deterrent and rehabilitative effects of incarceration; and identify aspects of the incarceration setting that might influence young offenders’ behaviors and intentions to reoffend. Participants of the study consisted of 16 incarcerated male offenders from a maximum-security detention facility administered by the New South Wales Department of Juvenile Justice. References