Researchers have found that rather than rehabilitating young delinquents, juvenile detention – which lumps troubled kids in with other troubled kids – appeared to worsen their behavior problems, reports Time. Compared with other kids with a similar history of bad behavior, those who entered the juvenile-justice system were nearly seven times more likely to be arrested for crimes as adults. And those who ended up being sentenced to juvenile prison were 37 times more likely to be arrested again as adults.
“It’s much worse than we would have expected,” says Richard Tremblay, a psychology professor at the University of Montreal and a co-author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. “By having them live together, they form relationships. It’s more likely to increase the problem.” The 20-year study followed 779 low-income youth in Montreal with annual interviews from age 10 to age 17, then tracked their arrest records in adulthood.