There is a high rate of recidivism amongst juveniles who leave a correctional institution. The behavior of these young people is the source of both a great deal of distress for victims and of damage to society. The Netherland's Ministry of Justice therefore considers it to be important to gain a better insight into the factors that can contribute towards changing such behavior. A lot of research is being carried out into interventions and how effective these are. However, little attention has been devoted to juveniles' experiences of incarceration, the emotions that imprisonment evokes, and what effect the offender's emotional reaction to the incarceration has in terms of the risk of recidivism. This study, based on Dutch research, focuses on the emotional reactions of juveniles to imprisonment. Adapting to custody is a stressful process. An adequate adjustment to custody is characterized by the fact that, over the course of time, the person in question accepts the situation that he or she finds him- or herself in. This is usually accompanied by relatively stable, positive feelings about one's personal future and a lack of problematic behavior. Yet, if an offender continues to suffer from emotional stress, followed or accompanied by behavioral problems, he or she has inadequately adjusted to the situation. Inadequate adjustment is an obstacle to day-to-day activities in custodial institutions and increases the risk of unsafe situations. Moreover, it is likely that an inadequate adjustment and emotional stress in the form of anxiety, anger, or pride, will have a negative effect on a juvenile's ability to learn during his or her sanction. This will not contribute to a reduction of recidivism. Being Inside specifically addresses the emotional reactions of juvenile detainees to a period of custody.
Publication Date: 11/4/2008