Obtaining Entry Into Juvenile Facilities for the Purpose of Interviewing Detainees

Michael S. Backenheimer, University of Delaware
Lana D. Harrison, University of Delaware

In early 2000, as part of a study on the connection between youth, drugs, and violence, the Center for Drug and Alcohol Studies of the University of Delaware sought permission to interview juvenile detainees at five randomly chosen juvenile facilities located in the greater Philadelphia area. This paper is a chronology of the difficulties and pitfalls encountered in attempting to gain that permission. It starts with the study's emphasis on confidentiality and concern for human subjects and continues through our contacts with the various juvenile facilities and our successes and failures. Discussion covers such topics as timing, the economic cost involved, what worked and didn't work in the research protocol and concludes with lessons learned from the experience.

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Updated 05/20/2006