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“What Rehabilitation Strategies are Used Within Incarcerated Youth and How do Risk Factors Affect Them?”

Author: Gabriela Gomez Samano

Department: UIC Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE


Rehabilitation in the juvenile justice systems are programs that can help youth get back on a better track then what led them to be in the system. Different methods are implemented in rehabilitation that can include counseling and help with schoolwork. With that in mind, what are the rehabilitation strategies used within incarcerated youth and their effects on recidivism? The purpose of this study is to view the most current strategies of youth rehabilitation and how it affects recidivism rates, as well as briefly mentioning adult rehabilitation. This literature review gathered data from peer reviewed articles from 2014 to 2021 as well as the city of Chicago’s data from the mayor’s plan, thus this study will assess the impacts of rehabilitation on youth and what policy has encouraged it in juvenile detention centers after viewing the different aspects and arguments between the dichotomy of rehabilitation and punishments in the criminal justice system. Findings include that many implementations of rehabilitation are short-term solutions that end up not working enough for youth. Most rehabilitation does not happen directly in the detention centers, many rehabilitation programs outside of detention centers that take in youth who are awaiting court, those who were previously convicted and generally support youth to reintegrate into society. In addition, many risk factors can affect recidivism; for example, family life and school life can unintentionally get them back into the system or be the reason they get into the system. For example, the school to prison pipeline is in which schools would implement the logic of being tough on crime and would lead to school-based arrests. Policy recommendations with the provided information would be instituting better rehabilitation strategies within juvenile justice detention centers by having staff equipped with the knowledge and capacity to provide rehabilitation methods and creating more stable resources within community organizations. Therefore, the city should allocate funds from the annual budget to low-income communities where youth are more prone to being incarcerated. Finally, implementing tactics and programs within low-income community schools where students are at a higher risk of incarceration can help long-term.

Keywords: Rehabilitation, Youth, Incarceration, Recidivism, Criminal Justice