Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 377–385 | Cite as

#freemind: Young Women Using Mindfulness Meditation to Cope with Life in a Juvenile Justice Institution

  • Michelle Evans-ChaseEmail author
  • Rachel Kornmann
  • Christine Litts
  • Elizabeth Pantesco


The purpose of this study was to introduce mindfulness meditation, a recommended adjunctive treatment for trauma in juvenile justice-involved youth, to incarcerated young women and collect narrative commentary about their experiences to answer the following research questions: What is the experience of incarcerated young women who participate in Internet-based mindfulness meditation classes? How do incarcerated young women apply mindfulness meditation to life in a juvenile justice facility? Participants attended bi-weekly guided meditation sessions and wrote about their experiences after each session in a journal. Three coders used open-coding content analysis to identify topics and themes across 38 journal entries. The primary theme, found in 61% of entries, described the difficulties of living in a juvenile justice facility, providing context for the descriptions found in 58% of entries regarding the usefulness of mindfulness meditation to cope with those difficulties. This study highlights the challenges of living in a correctional institution as a young woman and the barriers such settings pose to the wellbeing and healthy development of their residents. It also points to mindfulness meditation as an operative method of supporting these highly traumatized young women until that time when alternatives to incarceration can be identified.


Juvenile justice Trauma Adolescent development Mindfulness meditation 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical Standards and Informed Consent

All study procedures were approved by the Rowan University Institutional Review Board and the state-level Juvenile Justice Commission Research Review Board. Additional informed consent was obtained from all individuals for whom identifying information is included in this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle Evans-Chase
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rachel Kornmann
    • 2
  • Christine Litts
    • 2
  • Elizabeth Pantesco
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Social Policy and PracticeUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyRowan UniversityGlassboroUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychology and Brain SciencesVillanova UniversityVillanovaUSA

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