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Impact of Juvenile Correctional Confinement on the Transition to Adulthood

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2016
34 pages
This study examined whether and how the confinement of juveniles in correctional facilities impacts their transition into adulthood (approximately 18- 25 years old) after their release.
The study used nationally representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) to compare psychosocial maturity for three groups of adolescents. The groups consisted of those placed in juvenile confinement before age 18, those arrested before age 18 but not confined, and those with no involvement in the justice system in adolescence. Psychosocial maturity was measured on three dimensions: responsibility, temperance, and perspective at Waves 1 (baseline, average age of 15.44) and Wave 3 (post-confinement, average age 28.31). The intent was to assess the effects of confinement and psychosocial maturity on markers of a successful transition to adulthood at Wave 4 (average age of 28.31). The findings indicate significantly lower levels of psychosocial maturity for confined youth in the areas of responsibility and perspective compared to non-delinquent youth and non-confined delinquent youth. These findings suggest that juvenile correctional facilities should feature programming that enables confined youth to develop skills associated with psychosocial maturity. Activities while confined should mirror typical adolescent responsibilities, behaviors, and tasks. 5 tables, 3 figures, and 41 references

Date Published: May 1, 2016