Juveniles in Adult Prisons and Jails.
A National Assessment
By James Austin Ph.D.
Kelly Dedel Johnson, Ph.D.
Maria Gregoriou, M.A.
U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
810 Seventh Street NW.
Washington, DC 20531
Office of Justice Programs www.ojp.usdoj.gov
Bureau of Justice Assistance www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA
GORSKI-CENAPS Web Publications
Published On: June 10,
2001 Updated On: August 07, 2001
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001
presence of youthful offenders in facilities designed and operated for
adult offenders creates issues for correctional administrators. The
strategies for addressing these issues vary widely among states,
depending on the system for committing youth to adult correctional
facilities, the nature of the facilities utilized, and the experience of
the staff dealing with youthful offenders. To better assess the issues
facing correctional administrators and the management strategies
currently in place, the project team visited several states with adult
prisons and jails that house juveniles.
presents summary data on the institutions that participated in this
review. Sites were selected based on their distinct programs and the
number of youthful offenders incarcerated in the adult facilities. One
cannot assume that the facilities visited are typical of all adult
facilities (jails and prisons) holding youthful inmates. The objective
was to visit several facilities to document how various correctional
systems are dealing with this issue.
project team examined several components at each site. Members focused
on gaining an appreciation of the way administrators perceive the
youthful offender issue and identifying the management strategies each
jurisdiction has developed. The findings of the project team are
summarized below for each system and facility visited.
Arizona Department of Corrections
Arizona State Prison Complex-Eyman,
Special Management Unit (SMU) II for minors at the Arizona State Prison
Complex-Eyman serves as the state's super maximum-security facility for
the incarceration of offenders who represent a threat to the orderly
operation of the state prison system. Youthful offenders are
incarcerated in a self-contained unit within this institution, which
also houses the department's death row and specialized mental health
law mandates separate facilities for youthful offenders. The state
maintains another 114-bed unit at Rincon for youthful offenders who are
sentenced as adults. Placement in SMU results from serious disciplinary
infractions at Rincon. In effect, SMU functions as a disciplinary
segregation unit for the department's youthful offenders sentenced to
the adult correctional facility.
in 1997, SMU is a state-of-the-art super maximum-security facility. The
unit is designed to hold 20 juvenile offenders and currently operates at
full capacity. All functions related to the operation of the unit are
provided onsite. Juveniles' movements to programs and services outside
the unit are controlled by rigid schedules and physical barriers that
ensure total separation from the adult population. The facility is
currently under a consent decree relating to crowded living conditions,
program availability, medical and mental health services, disciplinary
policy, and access to legal services and mail.
uses an objective classification system to guide placement in the
super-maximum custody status. The classification instrument assigns
points for a variety of factors, including the nature of the offense,
escape history, and misconduct while in prison. The resulting score can
be --reduced by remaining free of serious misconduct while at SMU and by
completing specific programs, such as the GED program.
functions as a typical super maximum-security facility, allowing
residents limited personal property, prohibiting audiovisual equipment,
and requiring residents to wear a uniform. Youth are permitted to
exercise outside the cell for three 1-hour periods each week and may
take three showers per week. Visits are noncontact and limited in number
and duration. Inmates are shackled and escorted by officers during all
movements outside the cell. The day-to-day operation of the unit is
similar to the operation of typical adult, super maximum-security units,
with emphasis placed on discipline and control.
SMU has a well-conceived array of programs for youthful offenders. Youth
must participate in and complete two of three programs, listed below.
Hazelden's: A Design for Living. This substance abuse
treatment program is based on the Alcohol Anonymous 12-step program. The
course consists of reading short booklets and completing a test, writing
an essay, or both. Successful completion of the program reduces an
offender's classification points.
Cage Your Rage. This anger-management program is based on
techniques developed at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Canada and
assists offenders in recognizing feelings of anger, their causes, and
methods to control and modify anger. This program is mandatory for all
Biblio Program. This literacy self-help program is based
on readings and essays from a list of materials. Upon completion of a
reading assignment, the youth must write an essay on the material's
relevance to his life.
participation is based on a clinical assessment of each youth's needs.
The program offerings are designed to accommodate the disciplinary
structure of SMU.
comply with grooming standards, attend study periods, and maintain their
cells in accordance with SMU regulations. All youth are expected to
participate in physical fitness, mental alertness, and recreational
programs, which include word-search contests, puzzles, and fitness
challenges and testing.
facility offers a range of educational programs, including mandatory GED
preparation. Residents who already have diplomas must complete a book
report every 2 weeks. Vocational courses are offered, but college-level
courses are not available. Each resident is afforded 3 hours each day to
attend classes. Instruction is provided in an area with adjacent study
cells facing a common instruction area. In this manner, instruction can
be provided on a face-to-face basis with group interaction, while
maintaining a high degree of security. Instruction is enhanced with a
variety of sophisticated instructional aids, and each study cell is
wired for video and audio instructional systems controlled by the
learning environment results in a positive atmosphere. Class
participation is high, and residents seem to value the program and
appear motivated to achieve their educational goals. Because educational
programs provide one of the few opportunities that youth have for
out-of-cell time and interaction, great significance is attached to
participation in them.
staff, including doctors, nurses, and mental health professionals, are
available daily. Youth with serious mental health issues are not
eligible for the program. There are no facilities in SMU for intensive
mental health services, and sight and separation issues make using the
larger facility's mental health unit problematic. On the day of the site
visit, 20 percent of the residents were receiving mental health
treatment. Despite the prevalence of mental health issues in adult super
maximum facilities, SMU staff did not indicate any special mental health
needs for the youthful offender population. The relatively low level of
serious mental health issues may be attributable to careful screening of
candidates for the unit. A review of files did not reveal any indicators
of serious mental health issues (e.g., suicide attempts) and showed that
mental health services were routinely being provided.
profiles. Of the 20
youth housed in SMU II, more than half were sentenced to prison for
violent crimes, including 7 sentenced for serious property offenses. The
main reason for their placement in SMU II was typically a serious
infraction of department rules involving an assault on staff or on other
inmates or gang activity. Half of the residents were Hispanic, six were
black, and four were white. Sixteen of the residents were 17 years old,
three were 16 years old, and one was 15, the youngest resident ever
housed at the facility. The longest period of commitment to SMU was 13
months, and the minimum stay was 6 months.
of a sample of the case files of unit residents confirmed that most had
a history of violent offenses. The following cases are representative of
the backgrounds of youth incarcerated at SMU:
Offender one was a 15-year-old serving a minimum of 5 years for
assault and possession of a weapon for his involvement in a
gang-related, drive-by shooting. His background showed no prior juvenile
or adult criminal record but indicated a history of alcohol and
substance abuse. He had completed the ninth grade. His placement at SMU
II was the result of an assault on staff.
Offender two was a 16-year-old serving a minimum of 8 years for
armed robbery. At the time of this offense, he was on adult probation
for other offenses. He has an extensive juvenile record, including
several convictions for weapons-related charges. He was transferred to
SMU II for multiple incidents, including inciting a riot, creating a
work stoppage, and participating in an institutional disturbance.
Offender three was a 16-year-old serving a minimum of 5 years for
aggravated assault. The offense occurred during his participation in a
drive-by shooting. His background indicated a history of alcohol and
drug abuse that began at age 12. Prior to his latest arrest, he had more
than 20 arrests as a juvenile for a variety of offenses. He was
transferred to SMU II for multiple episodes of misconduct, none of which
involved violent behavior.
Offender four was a 16-year-old serving a minimum of 3.5 years
for possession of a stolen vehicle, assault, and aggravated assault. His
background indicated 10 prior juvenile arrests and 3 prior dispositions
in adult court. He was transferred to SMU II for threatening an employee
and other episodes of misconduct.
Offender five was a 16-year-old serving a minimum of 10 years for
attempted murder committed during a gang-related, drive-by shooting. His
background indicated no previous criminal record but showed extensive
alcohol and drug abuse. He was transferred to SMU II for assault.
Offender six was a 16-year-old serving a minimum of 18 years for
manslaughter. His record showed prior juvenile dispositions. He was
transferred to SMU II for assaulting staff.
laws are flexible in their criteria for the transfer of a juvenile to
adult court. Because of this flexibility, the youthful offender
population has committed a wide range of offenses. Most of the offenses
described in the case files are serious, but several would not qualify
for transfer in other states. Four of the six offenders received a
sentence for a lesser offense resulting from a plea bargain.
and drug use as well as gang involvement were frequently noted in the
offender's background. Most surprising was the absence of any prior
criminal record for two offenders. A variety of disciplinary infractions
had resulted in placement at SMU II.
observations. SMU II appears to be the only institution in the United
States that provides a super maximum-security environment for youthful
offenders. However, this level of security is more a function of the way
Arizona has chosen to manage and provide programs for this population
than a reflection of the nature of the offenders. Although violent and
disruptive, the offenders housed in SMU II are not significantly
different from the juvenile offenders found in the segregation units of
most maximum-security juvenile correctional facilities across the
country. SMU II's innovative approach to programming for these
difficult-to-manage youth is unique. The juvenile unit at SMU II
functions as a controlled setting for the delivery of services to
juveniles who have been disruptive to the general facility population.
tightly controlled context of a super maximum-security facility, SMU II
staff have developed programs that complement the facility security.
Staff use the control aspects of the environment to increase incentives
to participate in educational and treatment programs. The program
offerings are well developed, are specific to population needs, and have
written criteria to evaluate progress and performance. Moreover, the
offenders' progress through these programs is connected to the
reclassification of the offender back to the general population. The
concerns that might be expressed about the impact of a maximum-security
environment on youth appear to be substantially mitigated by the quality
of the programs offered at the facility and the incentives for offenders
to use these offerings productively. The enhanced control and discipline
of SMU II may provide the degree of structure required to successfully
control and provide program services for certain types of youthful
Florida Department of Corrections
Brevard Correctional Institution,
Florida Correctional Institution,
Hillsborough Correctional Institution,
Vero Beach, Florida
state of Florida operates a youthful offender program for inmates up to
age 24 who have received an adult sentence and have been committed to
the Department of Corrections. Offenders in this age group with an adult
sentence of less than 10 years are eligible for the program. Offenders
under the age of 24 who have been convicted of murder or who are serving
life sentences are not eligible for the program. Florida law also
permits juvenile court judges to certify individuals meeting these
criteria into the program. The department can also designate individuals
for placement into the program.
majority of youthful offenders in Florida, age 17 or younger, are
participating in the youthful offender program. Exceptions are those
youth who have been decertified from the program and transferred to
adult correctional facilities. These decertifications are generally for
disciplinary reasons. Decertifications have also been made to create
space for new admissions to the program. Statutes allow the department
to recommend sentence reductions to the court for youth who have
completed the program and appear ready for reintegration into society.
Several facilities report making recommendations for sentence reductions
to the department's central office, but to date, none of these
recommendations have been forwarded to the court.
department designates specific institutions to house the youthful
offender program to insulate participants from the general adult prison
population. These youthful offender facilities are further categorized
by the typical age of their residents. Facilities are designated for two
populations: (1) youth between ages 13 and 18 and (2) youth between ages
19 and 24. In practice, however, both types of youthful offender
facilities house significant numbers of offenders of all ages. These
facilities house youthful offenders with the full range of custody
classifications, which include minimum, medium, and close management
classes. Staff at these facilities must undergo a 40-hour training
program on managing youthful offenders.
Three youthful offender institutions were visited: Brevard,
Hillsborough, and Indian River Correctional Institutions. The team also
visited the Florida Correctional Institution, an institution for adult
female offenders that manages a small youthful offender program. The
programs at each facility were similar and are described below.
all four facilities is the Extended Day Program. This program uses a
quasi-boot camp structure emphasizing constant activity to keep
residents productively occupied in exercise activities, classes, or work
detail throughout the day. Programming begins at 5:30 a.m. with military
drill and exercise. School programs operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
weekdays, with other scheduled program activities on weekends. The
program operates in a regimented, military atmosphere. Residents are
required to ask staff permission to pass by, to stand at attention in
the presence of ranked staff, and to use "Yes sir" and
"No sir" when speaking. The program uses a ranking system,
signified by the color of hat the inmate is required to wear, for access
to privileges such as telephone use, commissary access, and visitation
rights. Advancement through these ranks is based on good conduct and
satisfactory progress in the program.
premise of the Extended Day Program is that youthful offenders are
volatile and impulsive, so more intensive levels of activity are
required to manage their behavior. Essentially, the program tries to
wear down offenders physically so that they have neither the time nor
the energy to engage in misconduct. A high level of activity and
structure creates a more receptive attitude toward programming,
particularly educational programming. Resistant youth are faced with the
prospect of transfer to an adult correctional facility.
youthful offender facilities offer standard GED programs, special
education services, and vocational training. The facilities also offer
medical and mental health treatment services, including therapeutic
units for drug and alcohol abuse. In assessing program needs, staff
identified a need for a violence interruption program and a life-skills
program to assist residents in reintegrating into society.
has attempted to separate youthful offenders from the adult population
by dedicating facilities for the youthful offender program. However, the
state's definition of a youthful offender, essentially any offender
between the ages of 13 and 24, is broad. Within the youthful offender
facilities, attempts are made to further separate offenders by age and
type of offense, but program activities generally mix program residents
of all ages. The department modifies the Extended Day Program for very
their small number, female youthful offenders are incarcerated with
adults at the Florida Correctional Institution. The youthful offenders
at this facility are housed in a dormitory separate from the adult
population. Although they participate in the Extended Day Program,
youthful offenders are mixed with the facility's adult population for
all other programs and services.
profiles. File reviews of youth incarcerated at these facilities were
consistent with the data collected by the surveys. The majority of
youthful offenders held in Florida correctional facilities have a
history of serious violent offenses, with a smaller number having
lengthy criminal records for property, weapons, and drug-related
offenses. In many cases, the offense for which they were sentenced had
been plea-bargained from a more serious criminal offense. Among the four
facilities visited, approximately 50 percent of the resident population
were committed for serious violent offenses such as murder, rape, or
aggravated assault. The remainder of the population was composed of
serial property offenders, many with a record of violent criminal
Florida Youthful Offender Program includes offenders up to age 24, but
in the facilities visited, the majority of the offenders were either 16
or 17 years old. A small number of 14- and 15-year-olds were also noted
in each facility. The average length of stay in the facilities was 17
months. However, this figure does not differentiate between offenders
released from the correctional system and offenders transferred to adult
facilities to serve out the balance of their sentences. The ethnic
composition of the population at the facilities was similar to the
racial breakdown of the larger Florida correctional system, with 55
percent being African American.
reported significant frustration in dealing with the youthful offender
population, describing them as "impulsive" and "much more
difficult to manage" than adult offenders. Moreover, the
unpredictable behavior of the 16- and 17-year-old population seemed to
spread to the older residents, influencing their behavior. Although the
department has developed a standard 40-hour youthful offender training
program to equip staff with skills to manage these youth, staff report
that the training curriculum needs to be updated to better reflect the
type of problems they must face.
frequently mentioned issue was that Florida's reduction of gain-time
eligibility, in conjunction with the advent of truth in sentencing,
severely reduced incentives for good behavior among the population. With
a diminished ability to reward good behavior in a tangible fashion,
staff have not yet discovered a meaningful substitute to promote
compliance with institutional rules. As a result, property damage, for
example, is a major problem at the Hillsborough Correctional
Institution, where supervision is complicated by the poor design of the
interesting observation made by staff at several facilities was that the
recent increase in the capacity of the Florida Youth Agency has taken
substantial pressure off the adult correctional system. In the past, the
small capacity of the Florida juvenile correctional system created
pressure on the courts to transfer youthful offenders to the adult
correctional system. This trend is now beginning to reverse, and many
youth, particularly less serious offenders traditionally sent to the
adult correctional system, are now being incarcerated in the juvenile
notable facility visited was the Indian River Correctional Institution.
This facility was distinguished by a strong staff commitment to
encourage rehabilitation and to create opportunities for positive
change. While the facility's mission and program structure were similar
to those of the other youthful offender facilities, the staff at Indian
River were exceptional in their dedication to service and their
realistic, but positive, view of their ability to change the inmates'
lives. Cynicism and staff burnout, characteristics of corrections
professionals working with youthful offenders, were not evident.
facility is unique in several ways. A volunteer services program in 1997
attracted more than 2,000 volunteers to provide services to residents of
the facility. The community of Indian River gives between $12,000 and
$15,000 each year to the institution to provide items and services not
funded by the state's budget. Also unique to the facility is its
orientation program, during which department heads personally list the
rules and describe opportunities available to newly arrived residents.
This esprit de corps and the positive impact of this programming were
evident in the orderly appearance and operation of the institution.
Florida Department of Corrections has taken a proactive stance in
developing a comprehensive approach to the incarceration of young
offenders. In its designated youthful offender facilities, the
department offers standard educational and treatment programs, as well
as the Extended Day Program that seeks to address the energy level,
aggression, and impulsiveness of youthful offenders. Although
administrators attempt to distinguish between very young offenders and
young adults in housing assignments, no provisions are made to provide
developmentally appropriate programming specific to the needs of 14- to
17-year-olds. Given the unique issues and needs of adolescents, the
Florida program may compromise its effectiveness by targeting too broad
an age group.
Virginia Department of Corrections
St. Brides Correctional Center,
September 1990, the Virginia Department of Corrections designated St.
Brides Correctional Center as the housing facility for the Youthful
Offender Program (YOP). The purpose of the program is to provide judges
with the option of assigning youthful offenders who have received an
indeterminate sentence to a facility with an intensive, therapeutic
Correctional Center shares a 180-acre site in Chesapeake, Virginia, with
the Indian Creek Correctional Center. The institution is a security
level II (medium-security) facility with a total bed capacity of 570.
Twelve of the beds located in housing unit B are allotted for
participants who are being evaluated for admission to YOP, which has a
capacity of 65 beds. Only individuals who were under 21 at the time of
their offense are eligible for the program. All inmates assigned to the
program are housed in single cells in housing unit D, which contains no
adult offenders. However, inmates assigned to the unit participate in
work activity and educational programs with inmates from the general
of Virginia permits individuals convicted of felonies to serve a 60-day
evaluation at St. Brides to determine their suitability for YOP. To be
eligible for evaluation, the offender
Must not have a prior adult felony conviction.
Must not have been convicted for an offense involving a firearm.
Must not have been convicted of a Class I felony, a misdemeanor
involving injury to a person, or a crime involving damage to or
destruction of property.
Must have been over the age of 16 and under the age of 21 when
the crime was committed.
Must have had a judge determine that the offender was reasonably
capable of rehabilitation.
admitted to St. Brides for assessment, inmates are required to adhere to
a strict regime of rules and regulations. The inmate's level of
cooperation is reported to the sentencing court and affects the
determination for placement in YOP. These regulations include personal
hygiene, participation in work programs, compliance with smoke-free
policies, compliance with all established institutional rules and
regulations, and agreement through a signed contract to maintain an
acceptable level of program performance.
assessment period, inmates are required to participate in the following
Weekly discussion groups conducted by staff counselors.
Weekly substance abuse education sessions.
Viewing of television programs and videos on issues relevant to
their successful return to society.
arrival, each inmate is assigned to a counselor who completes the
initial forms, including a social history assessment. The facility also
requests a presentence investigation report from the sentencing court's
probation staff. These materials are forwarded to the assessment
committee, chaired by the assistant warden of programs. Committee
members include the treatment program supervisor, the senior
psychologist, program counselors, a clinical social worker, a
representative from the school programs, a representative from the
security staff, and a representative from the Virginia Parole Board.
assessment is completed, the sentencing court is advised of the
committee's recommendation and the offender is returned to the
sentencing county to await a decision. If approved and sentenced to YOP,
the inmate is returned to St. Brides.
participants may be terminated from the program through a due process
hearing conducted by the Institutional Classification Committee.
Termination can be recommended in response to intractable behavior, such
as repeated violations of facility rules, refusal to participate in
mandated programs, and engaging in activities or behavior that is
disruptive to others in the program. The inmate may also request
termination. If approved for removal from the program, the inmate is
sent to another corrections facility for completion of sentence. If the
inmate remains in the program, the parole board monitors his progress
and he remains under its jurisdiction until release.
All inmates admitted to YOP are required to attend a full range of
academic and vocational programs. Vocational courses include
electronics, auto mechanics, sheet metal, carpentry, plumbing, auto body
repair, printing, and other apprenticeship programs.
treatment plans are developed based on the inmate's history and current
needs. Available programs include substance abuse education, counseling
and support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous, sex offender treatment, anger
management, and life-skills development. Each inmate participates in a
weekly "issues discussion group," conducted by treatment staff
and peer leaders. Standard medical and mental health services are
available to participants in the program.
of the YOP's 22-bed capacity is for offenders under age 18.
Seventeen-year-olds make up the largest component of the program's
participants at 72 percent, with the remaining 18 percent being
16-year-olds. The racial composition of the program's participants is
similar to the department's overall prison population; 72 percent of
inmates are black and 18 percent are white. As with youthful offender
programs in other states, participants in YOP tend to be violent
offenders. More than 68 percent of the state's youthful offenders are
being held for serious violent crimes.
Virginia Department of Corrections recognizes the special issues and
circumstances that surround the incarceration of youthful offenders.
Particularly noteworthy in Virginia is the special attention given to
screening potential program participants to ensure that services
provided will fit the needs of the offender. The most effective
attribute of the program may be its unique approach to offering an
indeterminate sentence within a relatively rigid, determinate sentencing
structure. The option of tying time served and productive participation
together in well-structured therapeutic, educational, and rehabilitative
programs offers a powerful incentive for offenders to change their
attitudes and behavior. The indeterminate length of participation in the
program, in conjunction with the use of individual treatment plans,
explicitly recognizes the differing needs of individual offenders in the
program. Virginia's approach to the incarceration of youth appears to
reinstate rehabilitation as a priority for youthful offenders.
New York City Department of Corrections
Adolescent Reception and Detention Center
Rose M. Singer Center, Rikers Island, New York
Youthful offenders in the New York City Department of Corrections have
been remanded to the department's custody by judicial action, at both
pre- and postadjudication stages. The youthful offender population
includes defendants awaiting trial, persons convicted of a crime and
sentenced to 1 year or less, parole and probation violators, and persons
sentenced to more than 1 year who are awaiting transfer to the New York
state prison system. Currently, the department houses 526 offenders
between the ages of 15 and 17.
In 1980, a
state law reduced the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16.
Anyone charged with any offense who has reached his or her 16th birthday
is processed through law enforcement, the courts, and corrections as an
adult. Recognizing the special needs of this population, the department
established the Adolescent Reception and Detention Center (ARDC) at
Rikers Island in East Elmhurst, New York, to hold young male adults, 16
to 18 years old. Today, most incarcerated youthful offenders are held in
houses adolescent male detainees ages 16 to 18 and has a capacity of
2,548 inmates. Juveniles under age 16 who are charged as adults (labeled
juvenile offenders, or JOs in New York) are held at Spofford, the city's
juvenile detention facility. ARDC houses inmates in modular dormitories,
"sprung" structures (rigid frame tents capable of housing 40
or more --inmates), and cells. Female youthful offenders are held at the
Rose M. Singer Center, which houses one of the nation's few prison
nurseries, with a capacity for 25 infants.
The responsibility for the education of incarcerated juveniles is
assumed by the New York City Board of Education. Teachers from the city
system provide classroom instruction in the morning and early afternoon,
with classes ending at 2 p.m. All juveniles age 17 and under must
attend; for 18-year-olds school is optional. As a result of a very
structured communications process between the principal of the Rikers
education program and other city schools, released offenders may
reenroll in the city's public educational system without curriculum
adjustment or remedial needs that might result from their detention and
concomitant absence from their local schools. The dedication of the
teachers and principal at ARDC was impressive and indicative of the
quality of the educational program at the facility. The rapport between
security staff and the teachers was also positive.
facility has drug treatment resources available to adolescents, provided
through a contract that serves all Rikers Island facilities. Mental
health services are also available to juveniles, including group,
individual, and family counseling, in addition to regular social
services. Inmates also have access to an up-to-date law library and
support staff. The facility boasts an impressive computer lab, with
state-of-the-art equipment and a trained computer teacher. Religious
services are available, along with a limited mentor program.
striking component of ARDC, however, was not a specific program but
rather was a broader environmental issue: safety. The warden and staff
talked about department efforts to reduce the level of incidents between
inmates, as well as those between inmates and staff. According to staff,
inmate-on-inmate assaults have been reduced as a result of several key
factors. Administrators have established a zero-tolerance policy for
violence and possession of weapons. Prosecutors vigorously pursue
extended sentences for offenders who have committed violent acts within
the jail. In addition, the command staff at the jail have placed a high
priority on improving intelligence on gang-related activities and plans.
officers in identifying potential sources of trouble, inmates who
violate institutional rules must wear special identification badges. To
enhance the institution's capacity to respond to serious incidents, the
facility's emergency services unit (tactical response team) has been
expanded to 100 full-time employees. The administrative staff place a
high priority on communication with the offender population, and
meetings are held regularly between an elected inmate council and the
warden and his senior staff. The result of these efforts is a higher
level of safety within the facility, which encourages the pursuit of
educational and programmatic opportunities.
leadership of the facility appears committed to meeting the educational,
social, vocational, and recreational needs of youthful offenders held at
the facility. The warden emphasizes that the qualified staff have a
profound impact on the success of any attempts at innovation. Projects
are being pushed forward to address the physical plant needs of the
department and areas conducive to rehabilitating youthful offenders. All
new correctional staff are required to have earned at least 64
postsecondary credit hours; extensive background investigations are a
prerequisite for new employees.
York system is currently under court order relating to crowding, fire
safety, staffing, program availability, recreation, mental health
programs, food service, medical services, visitation policies, and the
physical condition of the facilities.
561 youthful offenders are held by the New York City Department of
Corrections. Approximately 53 percent of the youthful offender
population is being held for a serious violent offense, 23 percent for a
drug-related offense, 11 percent for a property offense, and 13 percent
for other nonviolent offenses. In terms of race/ethnicity, the youthful
offender population in the New York City system has a somewhat higher
proportion of black offenders than the adult jail population. More than
67 percent of youth held in the jail are black, 29 percent are Hispanic,
and 4 percent are white. By contrast, the adult population is 58 percent
black, 37 percent Hispanic, and 5 percent white. Sixty-five percent of
the youthful offender population is 17 years of age, and 35 percent is
age of criminal responsibility in New York is 16, meaning that 16- and
17-year-olds are automatically processed through the courts as adults.
Despite their legal status as adults, the New York City Department of
Corrections has recognized the special needs of youthful offenders and
has established a separate facility and separate programs to serve this
population. The most impressive aspect of youthful offender programming
in the jail system was the articulated expectation that the warden,
senior managers, officers, and nonsworn personnel should function as
"change agents" for the youthful offender population at ARDC.
These staff understand the need for a continuum of services for youthful
offenders, which extends into the community and involves family members
or positive authority figures.
initiative to improve the qualification standards for staff is a
positive step toward realizing this expectation. Staff should be offered
opportunities to participate in professional training seminars and
symposiums to further enhance their professional knowledge. Also
significant is the department's commitment to enhancing the safety of
staff and residents through a variety of measures designed to improve
rule enforcement, intelligence, and communication between the
administration and residents.
the department's strategy to manage the issues associated with youthful
offenders is its performance- and accountability-based --approach to
management, the Total Efficiency Accountability Management System
(TEAMS). This system stresses management responsibility for program
quality and operating effectiveness and has improved conditions
throughout the jail. The commitment of senior staff to achieving the
goals identified for the department's youthful offender program reflects
the TEAMS philosophy.
Philadelphia Department of Corrections
House of Correction, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, certain juveniles charged with serious felonies may be
tried in the adult court system. Until recently, the number of juveniles
charged as adults was relatively small, which was not a reflection of
the number of serious felony offenders in Philadelphia, but was instead
indicative of the intricacies of the waiver process required before a
juvenile could be charged as an adult. Juveniles charged with serious
offenses were first processed in the juvenile system, where a judicial
officer would hold a waiver hearing to determine if the best interests
of society and the juvenile would be served by trying the juvenile in
the adult system.
years, the procedure for transferring a juvenile to adult court has
changed. Today, in addition to the waiver procedure, certain charges are
"direct filed," meaning the charging decision by the
prosecutor dictates whether the juvenile will be tried in the adult
all arrested and detained youthful offenders are first transported to
the Youth Study Center, a multistory facility in downtown Philadelphia
that functions as the central intake for all juveniles. The majority of
the juveniles held are under the control and supervision of the Human
Services Department, and the fifth floor of the facility is a
closed-custody ward used only to hold juveniles charged as adults, or
"certified" juveniles. The ward can accommodate up to 37
facility is filled to capacity, youthful offenders are transferred to
the C-2 or A-2 block of the House of Correction (HOC), one of the main
jail institutions in the Philadelphia system housing predominantly adult
male detainees. Together, the two blocks have an average daily
population of approximately 60 juveniles. The units are physically
separate from the main population and every effort is made to prevent
any contact between adult inmates and juvenile offenders, including
locking down the adult population when the juvenile population is being
moved for meals or exercise. Once a juvenile is transferred to HOC, he
is quarantined in a single cell for 72 hours (or longer, if on a weekend
or holiday). During this time, the juvenile is screened for educational
needs and mental health issues and undergoes a diagnostic interview with
a social worker. Owing to time constraints, these tasks are not always
completed within the prescribed timeframe.
The model for all programs and procedures involving juveniles charged as
adults in the Philadelphia system is the Game of Life Development (GOLD)
program. The objective of the GOLD program is to develop a
"positive-norm therapeutic community for youthful offenders."
Participation in the program is mandatory. Each youth receives an
individual prescriptive plan for program participation, which is
reviewed periodically during the youth's residence.
program establishes five levels of privileges and responsibilities. All
residents begin at level one; when they satisfactorily complete one
level they advancement to the next. Privileges associated with the
different levels include access to radios, televisions, games, cards,
and paying jobs.
the program calls for 2 hours of off-unit structured recreational
activity and 1 hour of on-unit recreational activity to provide an
outlet for the high energy levels associated with youthful offenders.
Group therapy sessions cover such topics as anger management, stress
management, conflict resolution, the psychology of achievement,
communication skills, and self-esteem issues. Inmates may receive
visitors for 1 hour each week.
offenders must participate in board of education-operated classes that
are offered 5 days a week. Volunteers provide a number of supplementary
programs. There is access to both medical and psychological treatment,
as required by law.
Profiles. The most
recent data available indicate that during 1998, 424 juveniles were
charged as adults and detained in the Philadelphia prison system (in
Pennsylvania, the term "prison" includes both traditional jail
populations and state prison populations). The average length of stay
was 211 days, reflecting the more serious charges for which the youth
were held. In the same year, 28,290 inmates were received by the
Philadelphia's prison system, with an average stay of 79 days.
At HOC, 91
percent of the youthful offenders were detained for a serious violent
offense, and 97 percent of the detainees at the Youth Study Center had
been charged with a serious violent offense. In terms of race/ethnicity,
83 percent of the youthful offenders were black, compared with 72
percent of the adult jail population. The Philadelphia jail system also
held a higher number of very young offenders than was seen in other
jurisdictions. At the time of the survey, the jail system held one
11-year-old, two 14-year-olds, twelve 15-year-olds, and fifteen
16-year-olds. The balance of the youthful offender population was 17
years of age.
Both of the institutions housing youthful offenders are very old
(the HOC cells date back to the late 1800s) and are very small, making
direct supervision of the inmates impossible. This was also true at the
Youth Study Center, even though the facility is newer. Conditions in
both facilities were poor. The long average length of stay for detained
youth in the jail system complicates the already difficult issue of
providing a rehabilitative environment in grim, dark, old facilities
with little access to natural light or exercise and few formalized
programs for the juveniles. While the GOLD program has admirable goals
and programmatic ideals that the staff seemed to understand and support,
the goals do not seem reasonable given the physical limitations and
small staff. HOC is currently under court orders relating to crowding,
staffing, program availability, disciplinary practices, recreational
opportunities, food service, medical service, law library access, staff
training, and visitation policies.
in both New York and Philadelphia, staff were sensitive to the issues of
a juvenile population, but facilities seemed to be operating under
conditions that could not accommodate this philosophy. The facilities
did not have the level of freedom observed in many juvenile halls, but
there was much more freedom than that found in the typical jail, along
with a greater sense of safety. In effect, it appears that juveniles
held in these two adult facilities have more programming provided than
their detained adult counterparts, but less than they would receive if
they had been charged with and detained in the juvenile justice
substantial variation in each states' approaches to dealing with
youthful offenders, in terms of definition, legal status, and
programming. Staff in adult correctional facilities tend to find
youthful offenders more volatile and more difficult to deal with.
Integrating programming with a well-designed operating philosophy, as in
Arizona, appears to enhance offender acceptance and enthusiasm for
residents of surveyed facilities had backgrounds of violence or long
criminal histories or both. Diverse strategies were employed to deal
with the complex constellation of needs of the youthful offender
population. Some systems focused on incentives for programming, whereas
others focused on the safety and security of the institution. Older
facilities are often challenged to provide sophisticated programming as
they are limited by the size and construction of the physical structure.
The inmate population brings with it two challenges that must be
addressed. First, the serious and violent offense profiles of most
youthful offenders pose significant safety and security issues to the
operation of the facilities. A structured environment is required to
maintain the orderly operation of the facilities, but given the
juveniles' status, management techniques that do not employ massive
force must be used. Second, this population's significant developmental,
emotional, and cognitive issues can be addressed by appropriate
programming. Further, the gender-specific needs of girls in the adult
correctional system deserve equal attention. The expertise of the staff
in these areas appears to be a critical link to the quality of services
and the orderly operation of the facility.
This document was
prepared by the Institute on Crime, Justice and Corrections and the
National Council on Crime and Delinquency, under grant number
97-DD-BX-0026, awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of
Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings,
and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this document are those
of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or
policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Bureau of Justice
Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also
includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute
of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention,
and the Office for Victims of Crime.
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