A First Look at the Reentry Experiences of Juvenile Lifers Released in Philadelphia

Tarika Daftary-Kapur, Tina M. Zottoli, Tristin Faust, Ryan Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

In 2012, when the U.S. Supreme Court abolished mandatory sentences of life without parole for persons who committed homicide offenses as juveniles, over 2,000 individuals across the United States were serving the sentence. To date, more than 800 juvenile lifers have been released. To better understand the experiences and needs of this population, we surveyed 112 Philadelphia-based juvenile lifers about their earlylife experiences, the periods of their incarceration, and their release and reentry experiences. The majority of respondents reported relatively successful reentry experiences as measured by objective indicators such as housing and jobs. Eighty-one percent (n = 91) of respondents had secured stable housing, 75% (n = 84) were employed at least part-time, and 100% (n = 112) had been able to reconnect with 1 or more family members. Respondents rated family connections and support as critical to their successful reentry, and for most respondents (89%, n = 100) expectations of family support was well calibrated with actual support. Factors associated with perceived challenges to reentry included the number of adverse childhood events to which a respondent was exposed, age (with greater difficulties reported by respondents younger than 44 & older than 55, compared to others), physical and mental health, and the extent to which actual family support was consistent with expectations. We discuss the policy implications of our findings in light of continued trends toward decarceration in the United States and the potential that parole grants for persons serving long sentences for violent crimes may continue to increase

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology, Public Policy, and Law
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Juvenile lifers
  • Juveniles
  • Life without parole
  • Lifers
  • Reentry

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