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Juveniles within Adult Correctional Settings: Legal Pathways and Developmental Considerations

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An increasing number of juvenile offenders are being processed through adult correctional systems in the United States. Changing conceptions of juvenile offenders and expansions to the criteria for juvenile transfer laws have created a number of new challenges for correctional systems, policy makers and researchers. In this article, we detail the legal mechanisms that bring adolescents into the adult system. Basic profiles of juveniles in adult settings are constructed and the unique challenges posed by this population of offenders are discussed. Issues related to the safety and management of juveniles within the adult system are evaluated within a developmental framework. Finally, we examine research and policy implications that emerge when a significant number of juveniles are required to spend their formative years of adolescence in an environment designed for adults.