Inmate Hierarchies and Social Status in a Juvenile Prison

Anne M. Nurse, The College of Wooster

Criminologists have long been interested in prison culture, but with a focus on the adult system. Juvenile prison culture has been addressed infrequently in the literature. It is important to correct this imbalance: juvenile prisons have unique features that impact their general culture, as well as their social stratification systems. These features include relatively short sentence lengths, wide diversity in the developmental stages of inmates, and rules that tend to be extremely stringent. Drawing on forty in-depth interviews with male first-time admissions to the juvenile correctional system in Ohio, the author discusses how inmates develop hierarchies and social systems within the institution. Her findings suggest that social status within the institution is often based on influences from outside the prison itself.

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Updated 05/20/2006