Views from the inside

Young offenders' subjective experiences of incarceration

Peter J. Ashkar, Dianna T. Kenny

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

46 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined the incarceration experiences of 16 adolescent males in a maximum-security detention facility. A semistructured interview was conducted with each detainee and recorded on audiocassette. Data were analysed using phenomenological descriptive methodology. Detainees' experiences were characterised by a prison culture of bullying, substance use, and antagonism with youth workers; inadequate service provision and a lack of rehabilitative programming; and a sense of loss through reduced autonomy and dislocation from important others. These experiences gave rise to a range of negative feelings and emotions and promoted thinking about past and future behaviours. The incarceration experience placed detainees into a state of readiness for positive change but failed to provide them with the necessary skills to effect and sustain this change. Promotion of antisocial behaviour, lack of deterrence, and insufficient rehabilitative programming were identified as factors of the incarceration setting likely to contribute to the high rates of recidivism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584-597
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • Deterrence
  • Incarceration
  • Recidivism
  • Rehabilitation
  • Young offender

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