- ‘What works’ for juvenile prisoners: the role of group climate in a youth prison
- Journal of Children’s Services
- Volume | Issue number
- 4 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)
The Dutch juvenile justice system locks up an increasing number of adolescent boys and girls at a cost of approximately €250,000 for each inmate annually (Boone & Moerings, 2007; Tonry, 2005). Questions have been raised, however, about the cost-effectiveness of treatment in closed institutions. This study, with a sample of 49 adolescents residing in a Dutch youth prison, examined the role of group climate in establishing and maintaining treatment effects. Results show that an open group climate, with group workers paying more attention to the psychological needs of the adolescents and giving them ‘space’ to experiment, led to inmates feeling that they were ‘being understood by the group workers’. This perception of being understood was associated with greater treatment motivation and higher internal locus of control. Positive prison workers in the living group turned out to be a key factor in building an open group climate and subsequently higher internal locus of control and greater treatment motivation.
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