190 Consequences of Juvenile Incarceration

Based on research by Gilman, Amanda B., Hill, K. G., and Hawkins, J. D. (2015) by Mara Rowcliffe, BS.

Researchers studied the long-term consequences of juvenile incarceration on functioning in adulthood for individuals aged 27-33.  They compared incarcerated youth with those who were never incarcerated but who experienced at least one police contact in adolescence.  The groups did not differ when young on severity of delinquent acts, alcohol/drug use, family arrest history, gang involvement, poverty, race/ethnicity nor impulsiveness. The Seattle Social Development Project provided the data, which included a multiethnic community sample with an equal number of men and women.

The results showed youth who were incarcerated, often labeled juvenile delinquent, were more likely as adults to engage in crime, experience incarceration, meet criteria for alcohol abuse, and receive public assistance. The researchers concluded that juvenile incarceration was not rehabilitative. It thus is not only ineffective at reducing criminal behavior later in life, but there are also unwanted and harmful consequences.  Juveniles respond negatively to labeling and punishment.

Let’s find suitable alternatives that do not jeopardize public safety. Let’s educate these youth and instill in them work and community values. Help them build careers, learn positive social skills so they can solve relationship problems peacefully and work together well.


Gilman, A. B., Hill, K. G., & Hawkins, J. D. (2015). When Is a Youth’s Debt to Society Paid? Examining the Long-Term Consequences of Juvenile Incarceration for Adult Functioning. Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology, 1(1), 33-47.

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