skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 183667 Find in a Library
Title: Human Impact of Crowding in Juvenile Detention
Journal: Journal for Juvenile Justice and Detention Services  Volume:14  Issue:2  Dated:Fall 1999  Pages:43-51
Author(s): Sue Burrell
Date Published: 1999
Page Count: 9
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Observations of juvenile detention centers around the country revealed that youth and staff in crowded juvenile facilities may experience profound indignities and a range of physical and emotional harm, but official discussions of population and square footage requirements often overlook the personal experiences of inmates and staff.
Abstract: The juvenile system is intended to care humanely for youth who truly need to be severely confined. However, conditions in one overcrowded juvenile facility included strong unpleasant odors of sweat and urine; some walls and floors smeared with blood, mucous, and feces; halls littered with piles of laundry and rolled-up mattresses; and loud sounds of yelling and the slamming of heavy doors. Staff reported more fights as crowding increased, a focus on structure and safety rather than rehabilitation, and difficulties in separating rival gang members from one another. Psychiatric testimony about the impact of crowding confirmed a rise in violent incidents, sexual acting out, and suicide attempts. Some youths spent 6 months or more in this short-term facility awaiting placement or commitment to another facility. Staff often worked 16 hours a day for several consecutive days due to increased operational needs caused by population pressures. Inappropriate detention decisions, systemic inefficiencies, and failure to consider other service or placement options exacerbated the crowding and its effects. However, knowledge exists regarding how to change this disturbing situation; juvenile justice professionals in jurisdictions around the country have successfully grappled with crowding and practices contributing to unnecessary juvenile detention. 10 reference notes (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Juvenile detention
Index Term(s): Correctional personnel attitudes; Facility conditions; Juvenile correctional facilities; Juvenile correctional programs; Juvenile detention reform; Juvenile inmate attitudes; Juvenile inmate misconduct; Juvenile justice personnel attitudes; Prison overcrowding; Rights of minors; Space management
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.