The Urban Review

, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 638–658 | Cite as

“Hurt People, Hurt People”: The Trauma of Juvenile Incarceration

  • Shiv R. DesaiEmail author


While approximately one in three youths are identified by juvenile probation officers as needing mental health services, researchers estimate that between 67 and 90% of detained and adjudicated youth meet criteria for at least one mental health diagnosis, and almost 50% for two or more comorbid psychiatric disorders. This staggering prevalence of mental health disorders amongst system-involved youth is more frequent than in the general adolescent population. The juvenile justice system (JJS) has become the default system for incarcerated youth who do not receive the proper mental health care in the community—especially marginalized, working-class youth of color. Given the fact that there are 1.6 million system-involved youth, it is vital for the JJS to begin to address their wellness. The purpose of this paper is to present how trauma affects system-involved youth by creating emotional, mental, spiritual and physical distress by examining data from a Youth Participatory Action Research project with system-involved youth and their allies.


Juvenile justice system Trauma Trauma informed practices Youth participatory action research Relational worldview 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

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