TitleInside a Maximum Security Juvenile Training School: Institutional Attempts to Redefine the American Dream and Normalize Incarcerated Youth
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsInderbitzin, M
JournalPunishment & Society
Pagination235 - 251
Date Published2007

The ethnographic analysis revealed that cottage staff played an important part in modeling conforming behaviors, strategies, and attitudes for their institutionalized juveniles. The cottage staff reinforced the notion that these youth should aim low and adopt aspirations and goals more appropriate to the opportunities for success they would face in their communities. The author argues that the analysis lends strength to the argument that juvenile correctional facilities are one of the last examples of the old penology and that one of the underlying tasks of such institutions is to lower or level the aspirations of young inmates to be more in line with the level of success they are likely to achieve in the community. The research involved conducting an ethnographic analysis of a cottage for violent offenders in a maximum-security juvenile training school. The study focused on the interactions between juveniles and staff within one of the cottages housing violent juvenile offenders. The researcher observed the interactions approximately once a week for about 8 hours at a time. Informal interviews in the form of conversations were also conducted with the juvenile offenders and cottage staff members. In addition to the main findings relayed above, the analysis also focused on the incarcerated youths' perceptions of the future, which included predictions by the juveniles about who would die first and who would end up in the penitentiary as an adult offender. References