Example Of Research Paper On Mental Health Youth In Adult Correctional Facilities

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Adult, Adulthood, Teenagers, Youth, Crime, Prison, People, Education

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2021/02/08


This paper will address the concerns of the mental health of juveniles who are incarcerated in the adult justice system. To properly address this issue it is important to take a look at how the juvenile justice system compares to the juvenile justice system in all aspects. This will include differences in education and the fact that minorities are more likely to be impacted negatively in the adult justice system. The mental health of youth is important to examine if there is to be a reduction of recidivism and there is a lot of evidence suggesting that this along with other factors are creating an environment that is not productive for the youth housed in adult facilities.


Incarceration and detention for crimes are supposed to help offenders learn their lesson and change. Prisons are designed to facilitate four main purposes incapacitate the offender provide retribution for the victim, deter crime and rehabilitate the offender. The idea is that when you take away criminals freedoms that are a sufficient way to make them pay for the crimes they commit that incurs a debt upon the society they live in. This provides retribution to the victims of their crime and there are many victims and people in society impacted when a person commits a crime and break the law. The reason that criminals need to be incapacitated or held in prisons is so that the society does not have to live in fear that the person will continue to break the law and cause harm to people that are innocent and law abiding citizens. It is thought that by depriving the criminals of their freedoms and incapacitating them this will deter them from committing future criminal acts as well as deter others from attempting to break the law in the first place because the consequences of these actions will be the same for each person. The time that prisoners spend in correctional facilities is meant to rehabilitate them or show them ways that they can change so that they will know how to become people that obey the laws when they are released from prison. Some programs that are available in prisons to facilitate these changes include education (GED or higher learning), job skills courses and counseling to help the prisoners with any other issues (Tryvalon et al., 2009).
Prison systems intentions may be noble however the effect on young people is not what is intended as being incarcerated in prisons can actually increase the amount of crime because the young people who are incarcerated in these systems have an adverse reaction to the detainment. The result of juvenile detention in adult facilities in most cases is that recidivism rates for these youths increase rather than decrease. A small amount of the juveniles incarcerated in adult facilities may display positive results however overall this type of punishment is not helping to reduce crime, instead it is causing these young people to progress in there criminal activities and often they end up reoffending meaning the idea behind this type of incarceration is failing the youth who are exposed to this environment while being detained. The important thing to investigate is some of the reasons why this type of incarceration has such a negative impact (Holman & Zeidenburg, 2015).

Negative impacts

The reason that there is a juvenile justice system in place is that young people require different things than adults to learn from their mistakes. There are many studies that prove there is a need for a juvenile justice system because the adult correction facilities are not designed to reach all of the things that young people need when they are in the system and this includes the trial, sentencing and time the youth spend detained in corrections facilities. Despite the fact that the majority of evidence supports the fact that youth cannot receive the help they need in adult facilities there has been an overwhelming amount of young people who are incarcerated in adult correctional facilities every year even though the crime rates for juveniles has been decreasing in recent years. Research has been able to show that there are at least 200,000 juveniles that are processed through adult systems each year which indicates that there are this many young people who are not being given a proper chance at rehabilitation because the adult system is not designed to meet the needs of young people. Transfer policies make it possible for young people to be tried in adult courts and held in adult prisons and these policies have very negative impacts on juveniles who come into contact with the justice system. In many cases research has indicated a disproportionate amount of minorities that are incarcerated in adult correctional facilities. Minorities with an emphasis on African American minorities are often the majority of youth that experience time in adult facilities. This group of juveniles can make up a range of 50 to 90 percent of the amount of juveniles incarcerated in adult prison facilities. This can be attributed in part to the disproportionate amount of minorities that are arrested and encounter the process in the first place. One study found that although only 16 percent of the population in the United States is African American juveniles they encompass 58 percent of the juveniles who are incarcerated in the adult prison system. These young people are often sentenced to adult facilities more often than white juveniles and there sentences are often harsher as well. One of the negative impacts of this type of punishment includes a negative impact on the juvenile’s ability to maintain a proper education. This is because the adult facilities are not equipped with the proper resources to facilitate the educational needs of juveniles. Young people incarcerated in adult facilities are exposed to hardened criminals and this puts them at an extremely high risk of being assaulted during incarceration and abused which can cause more harm than good. Juveniles who are sentenced in the adult correctional facilities are often in need of psychiatric and or substance abuse helps. One study demonstrated findings that 66 percent of the young people who are processed in adult court systems were inflicted with at least one if not more psychiatric conditions. On top of the overwhelming amount of psychiatric disorders there was also an overwhelming amount of young people who suffered from substance abuse struggles which the adult prison systems are not trained to help young people overcome. The educational needs of juveniles cannot be properly addressed in adult facilities either making it difficult for young people incarcerated in the adult system to get the education they need to become productive parts of society when they are released. If a young person cannot receive a proper education from the system than the juvenile is almost assured to reoffend because without education the juvenile will not be able to obtain gainful employment and therefore they will be more likely to revert to criminal activity and possibly even become involved in more serious crimes therefore escalating there criminal activities as a result of their time in the correctional facility (project, 2010).

Impact on Minorities

Minorities are disproportionately exposed to the justice system as both juveniles and adults. However the juveniles who are exposed to the system disproportionately pose a major concern because studies have shown this type of incarceration for youth is ineffective and can result in escalation and recidivism. This means the disproportionate amount of minority youths in the adult system will create a cycle that ends in a disproportionate amount of minorities incarcerated as adults. The top ten facts of the criminal justice system in America’s impacts on minorities highlights the serious problems implicated when young minorities are disproportionately sentenced to adult prisons. Minorities are only responsible for 30 percent of the general population in America however they make up 60 percent of the prison population. For comparison studies show that 1 in 15 African American men as well as 1 in 36 Hispanic men are in prison. This is in comparison to only 1 in every 106 white men that are incarcerated in adult prisons. The bureau of justice statistics states that this means that one out of 3 black men should expect to spend time in prison at some point in their lifetime. This means that minority juveniles can expect to encounter harsher punishments and time in the juvenile justice system at higher rates than white juveniles. The facts support this with evidence showcasing that juvenile minorities are subject to harsher punishments in schools than white juveniles which leads to more colored youth being involved with the justice system than white juveniles. In fact black and Hispanic youth are responsible for over 70 percent of juveniles who are involved in school involved arrests or involvement with police officers as well as other law enforcement. Today African Americans and Hispanics make up for the majority of juveniles who are incarcerated. Research by the American sentencing project further indicates that juvenile African American students are incarcerated more often than whit juveniles and are more likely to be sentenced to serve time in adult correctional facilities than their peers. They support this through research studies that show 37 percent of African American cases are advanced to criminal courts and out of these 58 percent of cases involving African American juveniles are punished by sending these young people to the adult prison systems (Kerby, 2012).

Psychiatric conditions and Substance Abuse

There are not many substantial studies that have been conducted on the psychological effects of being transferred to adult prisons on youth today. In fact there is not much that is known in evidence about the effects on these young people when they are transferred to adult court systems so one study attempted to examine the effects on the mental health of young offenders who were serving sentences in adult facilities. The study included 64 boys who ranged in age from 16 to 17 years old who were serving time in the adult prisons in Texas. The study used a mental health screening instrument that is widely accepted to assess the impacts of the adult correctional facilities on the young people’s mental health. The scores from this assessment were then compared to mental health scores gathered from similar young people who were serving there sentences at juvenile facilities to determine if there was a substantial impact on juvenile’s mental health that could be directly attributed to the fact that the juveniles were incarcerated in an adult facility. The results of the study showed that there was a wide array of young people that were in adult facilities that showed drastic mental health issues as a result of their time in the adult facilities. Over half of the juveniles surveyed displayed results that were above the highest medical cut off score which is considered pretty serious or a warning zone. The major proportion of the juveniles who were surveyed exhibited scores that were in a range considered cautious. When compared with the scores from juveniles incarcerated in juvenile justice facilities these scores were troublesome as the children in adult systems had rates that were exponentially higher than those in the juvenile facilities. The young people who are sentenced to serve their time in adult facilities are able to be monitored and there mental health issues are documented thoroughly however this study was able to show that the mental health of young people in adult facilities is in question when compared with that of the young people who are incarcerated in the juvenile justice system (Murrie D.C., 2015).
Another study theorized that incarceration among young people especially in the circumstances where they were incarcerated in an adult facility displayed the prevalence of depression among the juveniles. This study used a records based method for comparing the juveniles that were incarcerated in different types of facilities. As a result of the study the researchers were able to determine that juveniles who were in adult prisons had a stronger indication of becoming depressed than those who were incarcerated in juvenile facilities. This study also relied on data that was gathered from other research to support their hypothesis. In one of the bodies of research there was evidence presented that provided evidence of a reduction in the depression of juveniles once they were released from adult facilities further indicating that the depression could be attributed to factors of being incarcerated in adult prison systems. Some factors that were associated with the depression among this specific category of youths were included in the discussion of this report. One was that young people who were incarcerated for more serious crimes had a higher likelihood of displaying signs of depression. Further there was evidence that the assignment of juveniles to prison time in adult prison systems also had an indication of heightened levels of depression. The researchers in charge of the study concluded that although young people should not escape fair punishment when they are responsible for committing criminal acts, it is important to realize that the punishment should not be at the cost of the juvenile’s mental health. They reasoned that the damage to juvenile’s mental health can have serious continuous impacts on the juvenile over time as well as society (Ng et al., 2011).
Some of the reasons that young people are at such a risk for developing mental health issues while incarcerated can be attributed to the fact that young people are in danger of being exposed to increased physical harm when they are housed in adult prisons. As a result of the increased risk of being harmed in an adult prison the rate of suicide among these young people is five times higher than it is in a juvenile facility. One report was able to demonstrate the likelihood of victimization in adult versus juvenile facilities was equally measured for both meaning there was no less of a chance of experiencing victimization in either facility when it came to property crimes. However when it came to other crimes young people in adult prisons had a higher rate of being exposed to violent crimes including sexual assault, beatings by staff and attacks with weapons. This exposed the fact that it is much more difficult to protect juveniles from other criminals who become predators when juveniles are exposed to an adult prison system (Austin, Johnson & Gregoriou, 2000).

Education and employment

When young people are incarcerated in adult correction facilities they are often unable to receive proper training that is needed to become a productive and effective part of society. The young people or juveniles in the criminal justice system need education because having a proper education sets these young people up for the opportunity to earn an income that will support their family and keep them away from being involved in criminal activities. When a person is finished serving time for the crime they committed they are released back into the community. The main goals of incarceration are to teach the offender a lesson and make the lesson harsh enough so that the prisoner will not be inclined to reoffend. However if the prisoners are not equipped with the proper tools it is more likely than not that they will gravitate towards criminal activities as a way to support themselves and their loved ones. Some ex-offenders are able to make the transition from prison to the community with success however many do not achieve the same level of success and this is when recidivism becomes an issue. There are many reasons that can be attributed to success or failure of offenders however one that is often recognized is the fact that there is a lack of education which means fewer employment opportunities for ex-offenders. Often employers have a hard time hiring a person that has been released from prison for many different reasons however education or lack thereof is a defining reason that many employers turn away the people who are trying to rehabilitate. In many institutions the incarcerated individuals are given the opportunity to expand their education and obtain a high school GED or even higher however there is questions surrounding the available education in prisons that addresses whether this education works. When it comes to juveniles involved in the criminal justice system the United States has three times the amount of young incarcerations in comparison with other nations. In 2007 there was an act that was passed called the second chance act that allowed people to find ways to improve the educational system that was available in prisons and jails across America in an attempt to reduce the amount of people who would reoffend upon release? As a result a number of corporations including the RAND Corporation were tasked with examining the current educational system available in prisons and finding ways to improve the system that is currently in place so that it would produce better and more promising results for offenders. The study was able to show that adults who were able to receive education while incarcerated showed a significant chance of success in the society when they were released from prison. It was also able to attribute this success in education to increased opportunities in the employment field for these individuals. Juvenile facilities were well equipped with educational facilities because all juveniles including the ones in detention are given educational rights (Corporation, 2015).
Adult institutions do provide educational programs however they are not designed to focus on the needs of juvenile offenders. Adult facilities that house juvenile offenders need more than special management of these young persons and proper programs they also need educational programs that are catered to the educational requirements of juvenile offenders. Another significant concern is that these facilities need to be required to facilitate those in the facilities that are in need of special educational services because of disabilities. The 14th amendment requires that juveniles who are incarcerated along with all young person’s receive public education including adhering to provisions for people with special needs as defined in the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act or IDEA. Many adult facilities do not have the proper training or facilities to ensure that juveniles receive these mandated educational provisions and therefore they are directly contributing to the failure of the young people’s chances on the outside of the prison and ensuring that they will have less of a chance of rehabilitating when they are released from prison. In 1992 there began new legislations which allowed young people who committed certain crimes to be tried as an adult or sentenced to spend time in adult prisons instead of juvenile facilities. As a result the amount of young people in adult corrections has doubled in the last 12 years and presented the society as well as the justice system with serious questions about how effective this type of confinement can be for a person that is not yet an adult. If juveniles are expected to reform and not to reoffend then they must be taught how to succeed and equipped with the skills they need to do so upon their release and one question about the decision to house them in adult prisons is if these prisons are capable of providing everything that juveniles need to prepare for a normal life in society without the risk of reoffending (Austin, Johnson & Gregoriou, 2000).


Adult prisons are designed differently than juvenile facilities which make a huge difference in the type of programs and environments that a person is exposed to when incarcerated. When a juvenile is particularly difficult for the system or is more advanced in the criminal activity they are involved in he/she may be tried as an adult and housed for the entirety of their sentence in an adult institution. However this poses many risks for the juvenile that can intercept and block any chance of rehabilitation and actually expose the young person to serious elements that are detrimental instead of helpful causing the young person to delve deeper into a life of criminal activity. The system is set up to punish, seek retribution and then rehabilitate an offender and juveniles require different methods than adults. In fact exposing juveniles to some of the evils in adult prisons may push them further into depressive states and teach these young vulnerable people more about crime than they already knew. This means that instead of helping them the system is hurting them. Adult facilities are dangerous for juveniles and they also lack the programs a young person needs to obtain skills to be productive and crime free on the outside making it difficult to reform these young people. In conclusion adult correctional facilities may seem like a harsher punishment and some young people may be deserving of harsher circumstances for more serious crimes. However these young people will be released someday when there time is served and if all they learned in prison is how to commit more and escalated crimes they will most likely reoffend meaning the most important part of the process, rehabilitation is failed for these young offenders and often there mental health as well as chances in the world are damaged forever because of their incarceration at adult prisons.

Works Cited

Austin, J., Johnson, K., & Gregoriou, M. (2000). Juveniles in Adult Prisons and Jails (1st ed., pp. 7-8). NCJ. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bja/182503.pdf
Corporation, R. (2015). How effective is correctional education and where do we go from here (1st ed., pp. 1-9). RAND. Retrieved from http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR500/RR564/RAND_RR564.pdf
Holman, B., & Zeidenburg, J. (2015). The Dangers of Detention: The Impact of Incarcerating Youth in Detention and Other Secure Facilities (1st ed., p. 4). justice policy institution. Retrieved from http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/06-11_rep_dangersofdetention_jj.pdf
Kerby, S. (2012). The Top 10 Most Startling Facts About People of Color and Criminal Justice in the United States. name. Retrieved 9 April 2015, from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2012/03/13/11351/the-top-10-most-startling-facts-about-people-of-color-and-criminal-justice-in-the-united-states/
Murrie D.C., e. (2015). Psychiatric symptoms among juveniles incarcerated in adult prison. - PubMed - NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 9 April 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19648197
Ng, I., Shen, X., Sim, H., Sarri, R., Stoffregen, E., & Shook, J. (2011). Incarcerating juveniles in adult prisons as a factor in depression. Criminal Behaviour And Mental Health, 21(1), 21-34. doi:10.1002/cbm.783
project, j. (2010). UCLA School of Law Juvinile Justice Project (1st ed., pp. 1-17). youthforjustice. Retrieved from http://www.campaignforyouthjustice.org/documents/UCLA-Literature-Review.pdf
Tryvalon, G., Woodard, S., Stone, L., Walvin, J., Encarta, M., & Wood, s. et al. (2009). Purposes of prisons. Stop the Crime.. Stoptheaca.org. Retrieved 9 April 2015, from http://www.stoptheaca.org/purpose.html

Cite this page
Choose cite format:
  • APA
  • MLA
  • Harvard
  • Vancouver
  • Chicago
  • ASA
  • IEEE
  • AMA
WePapers. (2021, February, 08) Example Of Research Paper On Mental Health Youth In Adult Correctional Facilities. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/example-of-research-paper-on-mental-health-youth-in-adult-correctional-facilities/
"Example Of Research Paper On Mental Health Youth In Adult Correctional Facilities." WePapers, 08 Feb. 2021, https://www.wepapers.com/samples/example-of-research-paper-on-mental-health-youth-in-adult-correctional-facilities/. Accessed 18 April 2024.
WePapers. 2021. Example Of Research Paper On Mental Health Youth In Adult Correctional Facilities., viewed April 18 2024, <https://www.wepapers.com/samples/example-of-research-paper-on-mental-health-youth-in-adult-correctional-facilities/>
WePapers. Example Of Research Paper On Mental Health Youth In Adult Correctional Facilities. [Internet]. February 2021. [Accessed April 18, 2024]. Available from: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/example-of-research-paper-on-mental-health-youth-in-adult-correctional-facilities/
"Example Of Research Paper On Mental Health Youth In Adult Correctional Facilities." WePapers, Feb 08, 2021. Accessed April 18, 2024. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/example-of-research-paper-on-mental-health-youth-in-adult-correctional-facilities/
WePapers. 2021. "Example Of Research Paper On Mental Health Youth In Adult Correctional Facilities." Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. Retrieved April 18, 2024. (https://www.wepapers.com/samples/example-of-research-paper-on-mental-health-youth-in-adult-correctional-facilities/).
"Example Of Research Paper On Mental Health Youth In Adult Correctional Facilities," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 08-Feb-2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/example-of-research-paper-on-mental-health-youth-in-adult-correctional-facilities/. [Accessed: 18-Apr-2024].
Example Of Research Paper On Mental Health Youth In Adult Correctional Facilities. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/example-of-research-paper-on-mental-health-youth-in-adult-correctional-facilities/. Published Feb 08, 2021. Accessed April 18, 2024.

Share with friends using:

Related Premium Essays
Contact us
Chat now