Adjustment to Life in Custody Among Canadian Serious and Violent Young Offenders: Physical Aggression, Perceived Level of Support From Correctional Staff, and Feelings of Personal Safety
Heul, F.W.T. van der
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Two theoretical explanations – importation and deprivation – are commonly used to explain inmate adjustment to the correctional environment. This study examined the effects of selected importation and deprivation factors on youth’s perceived level of support from correctional staff, their perceived level of personal safety, and whether or not they engage in physical aggressive behaviour, while in custody. It controlled for gender, age, race and prior incarceration time. In addition, the effectiveness of the importation, deprivation, and integrated model individually have been investigated. Self-reported data and information from institutional files, collected from 63 serious and violent young offenders in two of British Colombia’s major custody centres, were used. The results showed no significant effects of the importation and deprivation factors on whether or not youth engage in physical aggressive behaviour in custody. However, results did reveal significant importation and deprivation predictors of perceived level of support from correctional staff and perceived level of personal safety in custody. Youth, who reported higher levels of institutional violence and fewer visits from caregivers, perceived less support from correctional staff. In addition, youth, who were older and reported higher levels of institutional violence, were found to perceive lower levels of personal safety. Finally, victims of physical abuse reported lower levels of personal safety than youth who were not a victim of physical abuse. Findings tended to support the independent effect of the deprivation approach; however, support was also found for the integrated approach, which combines the importation and deprivation factors, in explaining juveniles’ adjustment to imprisonment. Conclusively, the deprivation and integrated model were only able to predict 32% to 36% of the explained variance in perceived level of support and personal safety in custody, which indicates that further research is essential in order to increase the predictive accuracy of adjustment to life in custody among juvenile offenders.