Abstract: Dually-Involved Black and Latinx Youths' Narratives of Reentry in Massachusetts Post Involvement with the Juvenile Legal System (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

Dually-Involved Black and Latinx Youths' Narratives of Reentry in Massachusetts Post Involvement with the Juvenile Legal System

Thursday, January 12, 2023
Ahwatukee B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Noor Toraif, MA, Doctoral Student, Boston University, MA
Adrienne Young, Graduate Student, Boston University, MA
Sylvie Tuchman, Master's Student, Boston University
Background and Purpose

Youth involved with the child welfare system (CWS) are entering the juvenile legal system (JLS) at rates higher than their peers, and Black, Indigenous, and Youth of Color (BIYOC) represent a disproportionate percentage of youth with dual child welfare and JLS involvement. Scholarship on dual-involvement focuses on youth demographics and their experiences within the CWS and JLS. However, less attention has been paid to dually-involved youths’ experiences as they navigate reentering their communities from the JLS. This study employs semi-structured interviews (N=32) and thematic analysis to understand the subjective reentry experiences of BIYOC; the barriers they face during the reentry process; and their plans and goals for the future beyond incarceration.


In depth, semi-structured interviews (N=32; N=22 male and N=10 female) were conducted with dually-involved BIYOC in Massachusetts between July and October 2021. The average participant age was 19 years old. Interviews averaged 54 minutes and were conducted both in-person and virtually via Zoom or phone. Interview topics included BIYOC’s self-narratives in the CWS and JLS; reentry planning processes and barriers during reentry; and BIYOC’s future hopes and aspirations beyond system-involvement. Transcripts were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. An initial codebook was formed based on a small number of transcripts, refined into a focused codebook, then applied to all 32 interviews. Next, codes were collated into themes and compared across all 32 transcripts.


The following major themes were identified across interviews: 1) A Continuum of Care and a Revolving Door; 2) Freedom, and Free Stuff; and 3) “Getting a Job and Staying Out of Trouble”. Participants described reentry planning as disjointed and challenging given the revolving door produced by JLS’s purported Continuum of Care process. Although the system allowed youth to be in their communities for a significant portion of their time, it created the sense that the youth were never fully “out” despite not always being in locked facilities. Second, in reflecting on what they looked forward to post-JLS involvement, youth often used the word “freedom”. This freedom included the ability to see friends and families, set daily routines, and access smartphones and the worlds built into these phones. Additionally, youth discussed the JLS-offered services (e.g., cash assistance, employment and education services) not only as critical support, but as resources they felt privileged to access only after they “moved through” the JLS. Finally, in all the interviews, youth tied their ability to successfully navigate reentry and “stay out of trouble” to financial security.

Conclusions and Implications

Results indicate that dually-involved BIYOC in reentry gain access to the social safety nets they need only after they have moved through an increasingly carceral continuum. Participants explicitly discussed being able to access key social services only after they have reached the reentry phase. Additionally, financial security remains a vital element of successfully navigating reentry. Implications for reentry programming and policies that promote BIYOC’s flourishing will be further discussed.