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The Impact of Juvenile Correctional Confinement on the Transition to Adulthood and Desistance from Crime

Award Information

Award #
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Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2014, $39,933)

Approximately 200,000 young adults exit correctional confinement annually (Meares and Travis 2004). These young adults are most at risk for failure in both their transition to adulthood and subsequent desistance from criminal behavior (Snyder 2004). Qualitative research suggests that out of home placement for juveniles can have detrimental effects on youths' transition to adulthood by hampering their ability to develop psychosocial capacities. Thus, individuals delayed in the development of psychosocial maturity may remain in a stage of delinquency for extended periods, prolonging the exit out of what Moffitt (1993) terms the adolescent-limited offender. The current study uses nationally representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) to assess psychosocial maturity and recidivism using a sample of approximately 285 adolescents placed in correctional confinement for an average of 1 year during adolescence. This sample is compared to juveniles arrested before age 18 but who do not experience juvenile correctional confinement (n=578). Using Add Health data at waves 1 (baseline) and wave 4, we operationalize Greenbergers (1984) concept of psychosocial maturity (most notably autonomy and social responsibility) as it relates to successful development. The project assesses psychosocial maturity using factor analysis to identify dimensions of psychosocial maturity and thus advancing research on the development of psychosocial maturity over time. In addition, the project regresses psychosocial maturity in adolescence on psychosocial maturity in young adulthood, as well as several criminal and non-criminal outcomes across groups to further understand the role on juvenile confinement on young adult outcomes. Finally, the study will provide descriptive details of the conditions of confinement using the Survey of Youth in Residential Placement (SYRP). Findings from this study will provide an empirical analysis of the development of psychosocial maturity among a sample of juvenile delinquents confined during adolescents and the subsequent impact of confinement on the transition to adulthood and later persistence or desistence in offending behavior. Results will provide juvenile correctional administrators a guide for fostering meaningful change related to the restrictiveness of confinement to promote and assist young offenders in reentry as both mature and law-abiding young adults. ca/ncf

Date Created: September 11, 2014