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Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Correctional Facilities

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2010
4 pages
Based on a literature review, this paper defines a correctional facility and reviews trends in juvenile incarceration, the characteristics of correctional facilities that house juveniles, the impact of confinement on juvenile offenders, and current concerns and issues regarding the incarceration of juveniles.
For this study, a "correctional facility" is defined as "any residential facility with construction fixtures or staffing model designed to restrict the movements and activities of those placed in the facility." It is used for the placement of any juvenile adjudicated of having committed an offense or, when applicable, of any other individual convicted of a criminal offense. In response to an increase in violent crimes committed by juveniles in the early 1990s, legislators adopted a "get tough" approach that included tougher sanctions on juvenile offenders. These involved more mandatory, determinate, and blended sentencing (combining juvenile and adult sanctions), and an increase in offenses that qualified for severe sentences. Most incarcerated youths are still sentenced to traditional training schools and other large correctional units that house 100-500 individuals. Many large congregate-care facilities are overcrowded and have unsafe conditions. In 2006, fewer than 25 percent of all juvenile offenders in correctional facilities had committed violent offenses; and approximately 80 percent of all juvenile offenders were held in locked facilities rather than in staff-secure facilities recommended in national accreditation standards. Research on juvenile corrections has generally determined that confinement can negatively impact youth in custody, leading to further involvement in juvenile and adult criminal behavior, compared with youths diverted from detention or confinement facilities (Holman and Zidenberg, 2006). Currently, within the juvenile justice system there has been an emphasis on graduated sanctions and alternatives to detention that keep juveniles out of secure facilities when safely possible. 18 references

Date Published: September 1, 2010