Back to RJ Archive

An interpersonal-developmental perspective on juvenile justice systems.

Florsheim, Paul
June 4, 2015

Source: (2007) Journal of Law & Family Studies. 10(1): 147-171.

The central theme of this paper is that an interpersonal-developmental model could help provide a core set of unifying
principles for addressing several critical issues facing the juvenile justice system, including: (a) the problem of engaging
oppositional, resistant youth in treatment; (b) the corollary problem of helping juvenile justice staff engage in
productive relationships with difficult youth; (c) the problem of helping youth move through multiple placements without
becoming alienated and more resistant; and (d) the problem of successfully reintegrating delinquent youth with their
communities and families. … The rationale for emphasizing interpersonal factors in juvenile justice reform is based on
three factors: (1) research indicates that many youth offenders have serious interpersonal deficits; (2) the most effective
treatment programs for youth offenders emphasize the development of interpersonal skills and the stability of relationships;
and (3) the process of implementing empirically based interventions is itself a fundamentally interpersonaldevelopmental
process, requiring cooperation among the many adults involved in the rehabilitation of youth offenders.
… These common program characteristics seem particularly relevant because previous research has indicated that when
less serious youth offenders are placed in programs with more serious youth offenders and low youth-to-staff ratios,
deviancy training among peers is more likely to occur. … In some cases, the relationship should be more oriented toward
limit setting and structuring, in other cases it should be oriented toward helping a youth develop appropriate, adaptive
expressive skills. (4) Youth offenders will benefit from help that targets the development of interpersonal skills
needed to navigate their particular social environments. … Generally, epidemiologists and mental health services researchers
agree that across systems of care, the mental health needs of adolescents exceed our capacity for service delivery. (Author’s abstract)


Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now