Comparing Juvenile Correctional Facilities, Juvenile Wings in Correctional Centres and Custodial Educational Centres

by Francis BAILLEAU – april 2012


Francis BAILLEAU discusses findings from a research project on custodial facilities for juveniles, conducted in collaboration with Nathalie GOURMELON (CIRAP-ENAP) and Philip MILBURN (Laboratoire Printemps, UMR CNRS-UVSQ). Their project received financial aid from the « Law and Justice » Research Mission. Kathia BARBIER and Nadia BEDIAR contributed to data collection.


The setting up, by the Perben I Act in 2002, of a new type of custodial facility exclusively designed for juveniles, the so called Établissements Pénitentiaires pour Mineurs (Juvenile Correctional Facilities, JCF hereafter), elicited many questions and controversies as it revived a utopia, as old as prison itself : turning the time spent in detention into a time for education and rehabilitation, to avoid recidivism among juvenile offenders [1].

The research presented here, drawing upon in-depth observation and analysis of the first two JCFs in operation, aimed at understanding the revival or transformation of the tension between an educational and a custodial goal. To bring out a number of effects of the dominance of the correctional institution within these establishments, the plan was to conduct parallel in-depth investigations in two Centres Éducatifs Fermés(Custodial Educational Centres, CEC hereafter), another institution set up by the same 2002 Act. The first year of the study led to a change of mind and to the decision to extend the investigations to other types of custodial facilities : two other JCFs and two juvenile wings in correctional centres (Quartiers mineurs en maison d’arrêt, JW hereafter). The analysis has been mainly focused on the stakes inherent to JCFs, while CECs and JWs were considered within the broader issue of the organisation of juveniles’ deprivation of freedom.

[1] YVOREL É., 2007, Les enfants de l’ombre. La vie quotidienne des jeunes détenus au XXe siècle en France métropolitaine, Rennes, Presses Universitaires de Rennes.


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