1st Edition

Juvenile Lifers (Lethal) Violence, Incarceration and Rehabilitation

By Simone Deegan Copyright 2021
    226 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    226 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book is the first Australian study, based on extensive fieldwork, of the personal backgrounds and processes by which juveniles get drawn into risky and violent situations that culminate in murder. Drawing on interviews with every juvenile under sanction of life imprisonment in the State of South Australia (2015–2019), it investigates links in the chain of events that led to the lethal violence that probably would have been broken had there been appropriate intervention.

    Specifically, the book asks whether the existing criminal justice frame is the appropriate way to deal with children who commit grave acts. The extent to which prison facilitates and/or inhibits the mental, emotional, and social development of juvenile ‘lifers’ is a critical issue. Most – if not all – will be released at some point, with key issues of risk (public protection) and rehabilitation (probability of desistance) coming sharply to the fore. In addition, this book is also the first to capture how significant others including mothers, fathers, grandparents, and siblings are affected when children kill and the level of commitment these relatives have towards supporting the prisoner in his or her quest to build a positive future.

    Written in a clear and direct style, this book will appeal to students and scholars of criminology, sociology, andpenology; practitioners working in social policy; and all those interested in the lives and backgrounds of juvenile offenders.

    1.Do the Crime, Do the Time: Responding to Kids Who Kill  2.Approach to the Field – Data  3.Accepting the Challenge: Male-on-Male Confrontational Violence  4.Misfits, Murder and the ‘Monster Child’  5.Making Sense of Murder: Significant Others in the Lives of Young Homicide Offenders  6.Killing Time: Life as a Career Prisoner  7.Going Straight … or Straight Back Inside?


    Simone Jessica Deegan is Lecturer and Research Associate at the Flinders University Centre for Crime Policy and Research and also Principal Training Centre Advocate at the Office of the Guardian for Children and Young People. She has also worked as a criminal defence solicitor in the South Australian justice system. Her research interests include homicide, serious repeat offending, and life sentences.

    Why do adolescents kill? Can they ever be trusted to live safely in the community again? How does the experience of adult prison help or hurt them in reaching that goal? Simone Deegan takes on these tough questions in her book, and has done an excellent job of shedding light on these issues.

    James Garbarino, PhD Emeritus Professor of Human Development, Cornell University

    From her meticulous case studies and exhaustive examination of the literature, Simone Deegan demonstrates why there are no real winners, neither society or the offender, nor the victim’s or offender’s family when juveniles are sentenced to life imprisonment for murder. During her riveting discussion of the tortuous prison adjustment problems that such juvenile offenders experience, she reveals the hurt wrenching dilemmas that both they and their parents undergo for which there does not presently exist any possible means of either one of them escaping. Deegan makes the strongest case that I am aware of for the need of reforming the juvenile justice system’s treatment of violent juvenile offenders. 

    Lonnie Athens, Professor of Criminal Justice, Seton Hall University

    This book is an important, timely, and much needed contribution to the literature. The author illuminates the diverse pathways that lead juveniles to kill and provides a compassionate account of these individuals and the significant others in their lives. She shines an intense spotlight on sentencing policies and correctional environments that, all too often, ignore the juvenile’s immaturity and impede rehabilitation and a successful transition to society.

    Kathleen M. Heide, Distinguished University Professor, University of South Florida