Impact of Incarcerated Youth's Social Relationships on Institutional Misconduct and Self-Efficacy to Desist from Crime Post-Detention
AuthorDavidson, Laura Anne
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Despite significant public investment in juvenile corrections, research suggests that residential placements are only moderately effective in preventing recidivism. The aim of the current study was to test a Social Development Model (Hawkins & Weiss, 1985; Catalano & Hawkins, 1996) predicting youth’s institutional misconduct and self-efficacy to succeed post-detention from self-reports about the quality and nature of their relationships with staff and other detained youth. In addition, features of youth programming known to promote positive development (Eccles & Gootman, 2002), including integration of external social supports and provision of a safe, supportive environment were predicted to moderate the links between youth's relationships with staff and peers and detention outcomes. Data were collected using a cross-sectional survey design with 301 youth from four Nevada detention facilities. The structural equation model had adequate fit (ML χ2 =199.83 (57), p < .001; CFI =.93, TFI = .91, RMSEA =.07), and the model was supported over alternative models. Findings indicated that youth who reported positive interactions with prosocial staff influences were significantly more likely to report that they perceived they were going to succeed once released from detention, and were less likely to report having broken rules at the facility. Conversely, youth who reported interacting with peers who were engaged in antisocial activities at the facility were less likely to believe they would succeed after release, and more likely to break rules at the facility. A lack of physical/psychological safety indirectly, and negatively, affected the positive relationship between staff prosocial influences and post-detention likelihood of success. Implications of the findings for research, theory, and practice are discussed.