Organizational Climate in Juvenile Correctional Institutions in Israel: A Study on Violence by Educational Instructors towards Inmates during Discipline Encounters 1

By Reuven, Yaacov | International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences, January-June 2018 | Go to article overview

Organizational Climate in Juvenile Correctional Institutions in Israel: A Study on Violence by Educational Instructors towards Inmates during Discipline Encounters 1


Reuven, Yaacov, International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences


Introduction

Subjecting delinquent juveniles and adolescents in social deviation situations to authorized out-of-home treatment is a complex process. On the one hand it offers a last opportunity for rehabilitation and, on the other, embodies a risk of these adolescents' consolidation in the delinquent sub-culture. One of the risks involved in this treatment stems from the characteristics of these adolescents and from the work environments in the juvenile correctional institutions. It embodies thus a high potential for the development of a negative organizational climate which might induce staff members to react with forcefulness and violence towards the inmates during discipline encounters. This risk is mainly prevalent among educational instructors who constitute a unique worker group functioning within a complex and bleak work environment whereby they are entrusted with the order and discipline of the inmates. Treatment practitioners concur that the exercise of an irrational authority by therapists, manifested by power assertion and love withdrawal, is experienced in fact as a violent behavior which intensifies the inmates' hostility and lack of trust towards the grownups world (Minor, Wells, Lambert & Keller, 2014). Conversely, exercising a rational authority based on setting clear boundaries, through acceptance, empathy and support of adolescents' autonomy, facilitates and establishes the inmates' relations of trust in the grownups world, leading to the former's growth and rehabilitation (Mikytuck & Cleary, 2016).

The hypothesis underlying this study is that the effectiveness degree of the treating institution is greatly related to its organizational climate. This psycho-educational approach attributes considerable importance to the staff members' ability to establish an atmosphere and suitable interpersonal relations with the inmates, placing at the center the educator as a role model (Williams & Glisson, 2014). Consequently, it is essential to examine the factors affecting the interaction between educational instructors and inmates mainly with regard to their intervention during discipline encounters, through which the instructors attempt to shape the inmates' behavior. The main research question is: "What are features of the work environment in juvenile correctional institutions which may affect the power assertion intervention type of educational instructors towards the inmates during discipline encounters?"

The study focuses on two prominent features which distinguish between the institutions on the treatment continuum: the type of institution (locked, inclusive and communal hostels) and the gender-oriented treated population type (boys, girls and coeds).

The difference between the institution type on the continuum is mostly associated with the severity of the authority exercised towards the inmates both legally and practically. Examination of this institutional characteristic enables a deeper understanding of the authorized out-of-home treatment and the implications thereof. Investigation of the gender-oriented characteristic stems from the increasing interest which the public discourse demonstrates in this issue. The reason is that boys-only and girls-only correctional institutions function according to the same principles and treatment perceptions in spite of the differences in the reasons for referral to treatment pertaining to most cases.

Juvenile Correctional Institutions in Israel

The study was conducted in authorized out-of-home treatment institutions which are under the jurisdiction of the Israeli Ministry of Welfare and Social Services. Adolescents aged 12-20 years, who demonstrate delinquent and deviant behavior, are referred to these institutions pursuant to the law. This is done when the communal treatment has not been sufficiently effective for helping them, and their rehabilitation attempts have failed. These adolescents are characterized by particularly severe functional habits, such as: external locus of control, deficient socialization habits, vagrancy, association with groups at the margin of society and dropout from educational frameworks. …

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