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Chapter 4
Management Issues
Juveniles in Adult Prisons and Jails.
A National Assessment
By James Austin Ph.D.
Kelly Dedel Johnson, Ph.D.
Maria Gregoriou, M.A.
October 2000
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 (www.tgorski.com)
Published On: June 10, 2001          Updated On: August 07, 2001
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001

Introduction

The 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.

Table 12 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. 

The 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, 
Florence, Arizona

Program Description. The 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 unit. 

Arizona 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.

Constructed 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.

Arizona 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.

The unit 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.

Services. 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 unit residents. 

·          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.

Program participation is based on a clinical assessment of each youth's needs. The program offerings are designed to accommodate the disciplinary structure of SMU.

Youth must 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.

The 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 instructor.

This 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.

Medical 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.

Offender 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.

A review 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.

Arizona 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.

Alcohol 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. 

General 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. 

Within the 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 offenders.

Florida Department of Corrections

Brevard Correctional Institution, 
Sharpes, Florida

Florida Correctional Institution, 
Lowell, Florida

Hillsborough Correctional Institution,  
Riverview, Florida

Indian River Correctional Institution,  
Vero Beach, Florida

Program Descriptions. The 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.

The vast 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.

The 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.

Services. 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.

Central to 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.

The 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.

Florida's 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.

Florida 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 young offenders.

Because of 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. 

Offender 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 activity.

The 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. 

Staff 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. 

One 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 facility. 

An 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 system.

The most 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. 

The 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. 

General observations. The 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, 
Chesapeake, Virginia

Program description. In 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 environment.  

St. Brides 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 population.

The Code 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.

Once 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.

During the assessment period, inmates are required to participate in the following programs: 

·          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.

Upon 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.

When the 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.

YOP 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.

Services. 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.

Individual 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.

Offender Profiles. One-third 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.

General Observations. The 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

Program Descriptions. 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 ARDC.

ARDC 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.

Services. 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.

The 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. 

The most 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.

To aid 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. 

The 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. 

The New 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. 

Offender Profiles. Currently, 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 16.

General Observations. The 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.

The recent 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.

Underlying 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

Program Description. In 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. 

In recent 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 system.

Currently, 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 youthful offenders. 

When that 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.

Services. 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. 

The 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. 

Each day, 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. 

Youthful 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.

Offender 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.

General Observations.  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.

Finally, 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 system. 

Major Findings

There is 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 programming. 

Most 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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