However, there continues to be very little scholarly attention on how juvenile justice contact
affects females. Although some work has included females (e.g. Cauffman et al., 2015; Hipwell
et al., 2018; Moffitt et al., 2001), most of the research on psychosocial development for youth in
correctional set tings does not inclu de females, For thi s reason, our unde rstanding of
psychosocial development and delinquency is largely based on samples of males only.
This study asks whether adolescent correctional confinement affects psychosocial
development in early adulthood similarly for males and females and if and how this effect
differs for delinquent youth who were not confined in adolescence and for a comparison group
of non-justice- involved youth.
Psychosocial development in context
Steinberg and Cauffman (1996) expanded Greenberger’s original concept of psychosocial
maturity (PSM) around decision making, particularly focusing on self-regulation and one’s
“maturity of judgment”as it pertains to delinquent youth and legal processes (Cauffman and
Steinberg, 1995; Steinberg, 2009). They argue that there are three specific dispositions
associated with PSM that affect decision making which they call temperance (impulse control),
responsibility (ability to resist peer influences and take responsibility for own behavior via a
positive self-image (self-reliance, self-esteem and identity development)), and perspective
(consideration of the implications of one’s actions on others and other points of view and
make decisions giving consideration to broader contexts). Growth and maturation along
these indicators, along with cognitive competence, impact an adolescent’s ability to make
mature decisions. As individuals mature along these dimensions, they are less likely to engage
in antisocial or criminal behavior (Cauffman and Steinberg, 2000; Cauffman et al., 2015;
Monahan et al., 2009) and more likely to desist from crime (Schubert et al., 2016).
Aging alone does not guarantee that an individual will develop adequate levels of PSM; rather
Chung et al. (2005) argue that achieving psychosocial “capacities”is influenced by one’s context
and ability to practice developmental tasks at both the individual and social level (p. 75).
Psychosocial development is achieved through opportunity structures and reciprocal interactions
during adolescence. For the general population of adolescents, maturing along psychosocial
dimensions increases steadily over time as youths’daily tasks and interactions within social
environments (e.g. family, school and with peers) allow them to develop psychosocially during
adolescence (Dmitrieva et al., 2012; Monahan et al., 2009, 2013).
Correctional disruptions such as out-of-home placement during adolescence create
challenges to a youth’s psychological development and maturation by “knifing off”(Laub and
Sampson, 2003) the v ery opportunitie s necessary for cogn itive growth to achie ve PSM.
Building off previ ous research that substantiated social context and environment play a critical
role in developme nt (see Bronfenbr enner, 2009), Dmi trieva et al. (2012) examined “atypical
contexts”associated with psychosocial development (p. 1073). Their research focused on
confined adolescent males to better understand how incarceration affects psychosocial
development. They found that placement in a secure setting is associated with short-term
declines in impul se control (temper ance), ability to f unction autonomo usly (responsib ility) and
depresses youths’hope for the future (perspective). Further, longer term placement in
residential treatment facilities negatively impacts male psychosocial development to age 25
(Dmitrieva et al., 2012).
Most recently, Hipwell et al. (2018) examined a sample of adolescent females to better
understand how juvenile justice contact (measured as police contact and arrests) impacts
development of PSM. The authors found that arrest led to decreases in self-control and
responsibility. Thus, Hipwell’set al. (2018) research is one of the first published studies that
examines not only how self-control and responsibility predict juvenile justice contact, but also
how juvenile justice contact decreases levels of self-control and responsibility, negatively
impacting psychosocial development. Despite the contribution by Hipwell et al. (2018), there is no
research that we are aware of that compares the impact of confinement on psychosocial
development for females and includes a comparison group of non-justice-involved youth.
To overcome the limitations in prior research, we turn to our present study.
JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGY
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