Daily experiences and close relationships incarcerated youth: Perspectives of inmates and prison staff

Erdem G., Betül Yücesoy Z. B., Esra Ersayan A.

Children and Youth Services Review, vol.156, 2024 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 156
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2023.107286
  • Journal Name: Children and Youth Services Review
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, ASSIA, Child Development & Adolescent Studies, CINAHL, EBSCO Education Source, Education Abstracts, Educational research abstracts (ERA), Psycinfo, Public Affairs Index, Social services abstracts, Sociological abstracts
  • Keywords: Close relationships, Crime-involved youth, Focus groups, Incarceration, Stigma
  • Marmara University Affiliated: No


The current qualitative study investigated youth's adaptation to imprisonment through their daily life experiences and close relationships from a deprivation theory perspective. To that aim, we recruited 18 to 21-year-old Turkish men (n = 30) incarcerated for violent, property, or sexual offenses and the staff (n = 13) employed in the same high-security prison unit. We ran six focus group interviews with the youth and two group interviews with the staff at the prison in May 2019. Staff focus groups were separate for security guards (n = 7) and service providers (n = 6). The emergent themes from youth group interviews indicated social deprivation factors, including stigma and discrimination, estrangement with peers, longing for the family, and building closer relationships with siblings and parents via family visitations. Youth also endorsed non-parental adults in prison as essential sources of financial, social, and emotional support in adaptation to prison and referred to their newly established peer relationships as kinship. Youth anticipated experiencing stigma following their discharge, especially in close relationships. Prison staff reported negative attitudes about youth, families, and peers. Contrary to the youth's reports, prison staff interpreted the youth's close relationships as toxic; they blamed families for the youth's suffering and perceived their new relationships with peers and non-parental adults as 'deviancy training.' The findings demonstrated the ambiguity and precarity of relationships with significant others during incarceration, youth's struggles to adjust to the prison context, and the dynamics of forming new close relationships with cellmates. Intimate relationships could be sources of distress but also support for incarcerated youth.