TitleGrowing Up Behind Bars An Ethnographic Study of Adolescent Inmates in a Cottage for Violent Offenders
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsInderbitzin, M
JournalJournal of Offender Rehabilitation
Pagination1 - 22
Date Published2005
ISBN Number1050-9674

The purpose of this study is to direct attention inside the walls of a juvenile correctional facility to closely examine the experiences and daily lives of adolescent inmates. The ethnographic data for this study were collected through participant-observation and extended interactions in a cottage for violent male offenders in one state's maximum-security training school. This paper examines the adjustments and survival strategies of young offenders as they adapt to life inside the institution. The boys in this study face a particularly tough adolescence as they come of age in a “society of captives” (Sykes, 1958) where each individual's manhood and sense of self is continually tested. This paper offers a view from the inside, giving voice to young inmates, elucidating their struggles, their issues and concerns. Adolescent inmates in the juvenile justice system are virtually always released back into the community in a matter of months or years; understanding the way they experience incarceration is an important step in creating policy that will facilitate their reentry and offer hope for a conforming future.