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Faces of Death: Towards the Sociogeny of Adolescent Incarceration

  • Author(s): Falzone, Gabrielle
  • Advisor(s): Nasir, Na'ilah
  • Carter, Prudence
  • et al.
Abstract

Scholars, policymakers, and practitioners often frame the problem of youth incarceration as a problem of youth criminality; a criminality that stems from young people’s inability to control their actions or the inability of families and neighborhoods to control their youth. This focus on criminality obscures other factors that push adolescents into the justice system. This dissertation takes an interdisciplinary approach to reframe the problem; rather than centering criminogenic factors that lead young people into the juvenile justice system, it seeks to understand the sociogeny of adolescent incarceration, that is, the structural and sociocultural factors that lead to incarceration and related intrapersonal suffering. The primary significance of this dissertation is in its novel ecological approach to conceptualize the ways schools and carceral systems contribute to adolescent incarceration and can detrimentally affect adolescent development.

Using grounded theory methodology and ethnographic and interview methods with incarcerated youth and formerly incarcerated adults, this dissertation presents an ecological model to conceptualize participant experiences. This model is centered on three Faces of Death, where death is symbolic and represents three forms of suffering that schools and the carceral system inflicted or attempted to inflict on participants. The Three Faces of Death are: social death, which refers to the social suffering associated with criminalization, dehumanization and or disregard of youth; psychological death, which refers to the psychological suffering associated with social death; and biological death which refers to physical health consequences associated with social and psychological death. Together these Faces of Death advance our understanding of how schools and carceral systems are equally implicated in the sociogeny of adolescent incarceration. While this dissertation implicates schools in the suffering of adolescents, it also presents possibilities for education grounded in critical youth studies to help youth heal from, disrupt, and eradicate suffering from the Faces of Death.

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