TitleGuardians of the State's Problem Children: An Ethnographic Study of Staff Members in a Juvenile Correctional Facility
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsInderbitzin, M
JournalThe Prison Journal
Pagination431 - 451
Date Published2006

Key findings revealed that cottage staff members suffered from occupational stress brought on by their observation that the juvenile offender population was becoming increasingly younger and needier. The lives of juvenile inmates at the correctional facility revolve around their cottages and, as a result, staff members and older inmates become role models for younger inmates. Staff members spoke of the benefits they received from their relationships with inmates but also discussed their perceived failures in working with the juvenile inmates. An attitude of cynicism took over many staff members whose perceived failures had weighed on them over the years. Despite the hardships of working with juvenile offender populations, the majority of staff members were determined to retain their good intentions and remain modestly optimistic for the benefit of the youth in their care. Data for the study were collected during a 15-month period through direct observation of daily life in a cottage of violent young male juvenile offenders in a State end-of-the-line juvenile correctional facility. Extensive participant-observer interactions with 12 cottage staff and approximately 20 juvenile offenders also informed the data. The analysis focused on the ways in which cottage staff members influenced the lives of juvenile inmates during their incarceration and the nature of the relationships that formed between staff and offenders. The analysis also focused on the official and unofficial roles of cottage staff members as well as their hopes and frustrations. All data analysis was qualitative in nature. References