Probation Workers’ Perceptions of the Changing Sociopolitical Climate of Juvenile Justice: Implications for Youth and Families

By Joyce Arditti and Karen Joest.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

We explored probation workers perceptions of the sociopolitical system, and the ways in which these views affect their work with youthful offenders and families. Through in-depth interviews of nine juvenile probation officers in a Mid-Atlantic state that underwent a legislative shift toward incapacitation during the 1990’s, we examine participants’ narrative of their professional orientation toward treatment or punishment of youthful behavior. We seek to understand the ways in which these perceptions influenced relationships with youth and families. Specifically, we examined how juvenile probation workers view systemic change, and the implications of change for their work with youth and families. Findings include themes centering on ambivalence around a philosophical shift from “counselor” to “officer,” which contributed to perceptions that treatment was undervalued, underfunded, and nonessential.

Keywords: Juvenile Probation, Treatment, Punishment, Incapacitation, Youth and Families, Sociopolitical

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.99-114. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.221MB).

Dr. Joyce Arditti

Professor, Human Development, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

Joyce A. Arditti, received her doctorate in Family Studies from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Her research interests include family disruption, parent-child relationships in vulnerable families, and public policy. Her scholarship in the area of divorce and criminal justice is recognized nationally and abroad and she has published numerous empirical and review articles in therapy, human services, family studies, and criminal justice journals. Her current work emphasizes prisoner reentry as well as the impact of the criminal justice system on families. Joyce is the Editor in Chief of “Family Relations: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies.” She is a long-time member of the National Council on Family Relations and also a member of the Society for the Study of Social Problems. She serves on several editorial boards, consults on various research projects, and is a member of the National Advisory Board for the Family Justice Project in NYC.

Dr. Karen Joest

Assistant Professor, Human Ecology, College at Oneonta, Oneonta, New York, USA


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