A case study of the relationship between rhetoric and practice in a locked institution for children
This is essentially a study of social control processes as they relate to juveniles. It takes the form of a case study which focuses on one institution for children under the age of 16 years. The institution in question is part of a wider system which defines itself as welfare oriented and seeking to act only in `the best interests of the child'. It is distinguished from the majority of other institutions in the system in that its remit is to hold children securely, and to that end it has a prison-like physical design. But within the official rhetoric which describes and rationalises the juvenile justice system, the prison aspects of this particular institution are denied; deprivation of liberty is defined as part of an overall caring process and is justified in terms of the child's need for treatment. This particular use of incarceration and its construction in treatment terms provide a stark example of what is seen in this study as a central conflict within the juvenlile justice system. In the course of the study the conflict emerges at an empirical level as a gap between the system's rhetoric and its practice. The sudy is set within a particular historical and conceptual framework which forms the wider theoretical background to describing and understanding the role of official rhetoric which does not describe or reflect practice within the system. Committal and treatment practices associated with the institution are examined using both qualitative and quantitative techniques. The resultant demonstrable gap between rhetoric and practice is considered in the light of relevant historical, conceptual and empirical studies.