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Arrested Development: Confinement Can Negatively Affect Youth Maturation

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Anyone working with juvenile offenders should read this. It reviews a recent study regarding the impact of incarceration on the development of a juvenile’s psychosocial maturity--the combined abilities of impulse control (temperance), perspective (especially seeing from different points of view), and responsibility. Sections of this brief cover: general information about this study; research findings showing that incarceration of juveniles provides “no bang for our buck”-that placing youth in secure facilities slows their maturation, negative institutional settings harms youth’s maturation, and why short term slowing of maturation should be important to us; and policy implications. “The study finds statistically significant, short-term declines in psychosocial maturity for youth incarcerated in a secure facility. This period of lower maturity level means that youth may be more impulsive and susceptible to negative peer influence upon release, placing them at higher risk for re-arrest” (p. 1).