LETTING GO OF SHAME AS A TOOL OF PUNISHMENT: ADVOCATING SUPPORT FOR NOVA SCOTIAN YOUNG ADULT PRISONERS AND THEIR FAMILIES
This project used a mixed methods approach to explore and describe the life experiences and the social situation of incarcerated young adults. By analyzing data from a unique survey that was administered to adult prisoners who were incarcerated in Nova Scotia's provincial correctional facilities in December 2015 and drawing on my observations of interactions and relationships between adults and young men from within various milieu, this thesis aims to contextualize and expand our understanding of the social position, and needs, of incarcerated young adult males. More specifically, this research explores a survey administered to adult prisoners in Nova Scotia and assesses for differences between young adults (18-25) and adults over 25 years of age in life experiences, family connection, and family contact during incarceration. At the center of this inquiry is the distinct developmental phase of young adults and the specialized needs associated with this age group. Against the backdrop of human development and research on crime patterns and penal practices, incarcerated young adults stand out as a population in need of advocacy and support because of an important intersection of circumstances. First, it has long been recognized that the majority of crime, including a large portion of violent crime is committed during adolescence and young adulthood. Second, conclusive research indicates that incarcerating people does not facilitate rehabilitation, increases the likelihood a person re-offends, and exacerbates trauma and mental health issues. Third the part of our brain that's responsible for rational thinking and mature decision making is not fully developed until our mid 20s. Findings suggest that young adults have higher needs on several dimensions, similar to juveniles. The discussion and recommendations presented in the last chapter support the proposal for changes in correctional practice with regard to this age group put forth by the Correctional Investigator of Canada in 2017.