The lives and adjustment patterns of juvenile lifers

Author: Simone Deegan

Deegan, Simone, 2019 The lives and adjustment patterns of juvenile lifers, Flinders University, College of Business, Government and Law

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This thesis compares and contrasts the biographies of individuals (N = 19) sentenced to life

imprisonment in South Australia for a murder committed before their 18th birthdays. The focus is on

young males, but the core experiences of the sole female that fit the research criteria are

considered as well. Participant narratives concerning a range of conditions leading to and

occurring at the time the victim was killed highlight some of the factors (within and beyond custody)

that appeared to work against successful rehabilitation. Specifically, the thesis asks whether the

(adult) criminal justice frame is the most appropriate way to deal with children who commit grave

acts. The thesis concludes that juveniles typically learn little of value across their life sentences

and may, in fact, adapt to prison in ways that augment and reinforce the problems that initially led

to the juveniles’ incarceration.

Keywords: juvenile lifer, life sentence, homicide, murder rehabilitation

Subject: Criminal Justice thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2019
School: College of Business, Government and Law
Supervisor: Mark Halsey