The Impact of Juvenile Correctional Confinement on the Transition to Adulthood


Schaefer, Shelly & Erickson, Gina (2016). The Impact of Juvenile Correctional Confinement on the Transition to Adulthood. National Criminal Justic Reference Service.


Justice-involved adolescents face significant roadblocks in the transition to adulthood when they navigate this period (roughly ages 18-25) while simultaneously reentering the community after a period of confinement. To explore this double transition, this study investigates how confinement delays the development of psychosocial maturity and in turn, how this affects the transition to adulthood. The study uses nationally representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) to compare psychosocial maturity for three groups of adolescents: those placed in juvenile confinement before age 18, those who are arrested before age 18 but not confined, and those with no criminal justice involvement in adolescence. Psychosocial maturity is measured along three dimensions, responsibility, temperance, and perspective at Waves 1 (baseline, average age = 15.44) and Wave 3 (post-confinement, average age = 21.95) to assess the effects of confinement and psychosocial maturity development on the attainment (or non-attainment) of markers of a successful transition to adulthood at Wave 4 (average age = 28.31). Findings show significantly lower levels of psychosocial maturity measures for responsibility and perspective for confined youth compared to both non-delinquent and non-confined youth. Subsequently, confined youth have lower levels of educational and employment attainment in young adulthood compared to all other youth. Results suggest the need for juvenile facilities to rely less on correctional control and to incorporate programming that allows juveniles to build psychosocial maturity skills through activities that mirror typical adolescent responsibilities, behaviors, and tasks.


Reference Type


Book Title

National Criminal Justic Reference Service


Schaefer, Shelly
Erickson, Gina

Year Published



National Criminal Justic Reference Service

Reference ID