Context matters: juvenile correctional confinement and psychosocial development [2019]

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how adolescent arrest and correctional confinement impact psychosocial development during the transition to adulthood.

The research uses a US-based sample of 12,100 youth in junior and high school and again in early adulthood. Factor analyses determine measurement of psychosocial maturity (PSM) and subsequently compare baseline and subsequent psychosocial development in a multivariate framework for males and females.

Findings show that net of socio-demographic and delinquency-related controls, all three groups have similar baseline psychosocial measures pre-confinement but by early adulthood (ages 18–25) there are significant differences between the two justice-involved groups for multiple measure of psychosocial well-being, net of any differences at baseline. Differences are exacerbated for females.

Research limitations/implications
Results suggest the need for juvenile correctional facilities to incorporate programming that allows juveniles to build psychosocial skills through activities that mirror typical adolescent responsibilities, behaviors and tasks.

The authors compare PSM development for three groups of adolescents: non-justice-involved youth, youth who were arrested but not confined before age 18 (arrested non-confined), and delinquent youth who served time in out-of-home correctional placement before age 18 (confined) to compare development and changes in psychosocial development over time. Further, the authors examine the interaction of gender and confinement to explore if the context of confinement disrupts PSM development differently for females.

Shelly Schaefer, Gina Erickson
Journal of Criminal Psychology, Vol. 9 Issue: 1, 2019