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Despite the rehabilitative mandate of RA 9344 or the 2006 Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, the prevalence of children in conflict with the law (CICL) in the Philippines continues to escalate. This research argues that reform facilities housing apprehended CICL are crucial to their rehabilitation. However, facilities may be set-up as “total institutions” and hence, make problematic the reform of youth offenders. This ethnographic research examined the experiences of CICL admitted to a rehabilitation facility established by a local government in a Philippine city. Their accounts suggest that their situation as residents of this facility resemble that of inmates of a total institution. Physical obstructions are imposed upon them, and they go through a process of mortification of the self which begins as soon as they are endorsed to the facility. Mortification comes from two sources: their peers and the management of the facility. Likewise, forced confinement and regimented supervision negatively impacts on their sense of self and diminishes their ability to learn self-regulating behavior. The study concludes that this facility exhibits the “total institution” characteristics as shown by its strong “mediatory” power in shaping resocialization within the facility but “untotalizing” processes are evident through the mutual affection of the staff and the CICL. Increased understanding of the children’s experiences of mortification would benefit social workers, houseparents and other child care advocates to improve their handling of children in conflict with the law when placed in a rehabilitation facility. Moreover, the study recommends that rehabilitative programs should be crafted to truly address the differential criminogenic needs of the CICLs, including boredom and inertia generated by the present living arrangements.


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19 Jul 2022
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  • Alternative title
    • The Youth Facility as a Total Institution

  • Journal title
    • International Social Science Review

  • Volume
    • 92

  • Issue
    • 2

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr. Maria Virginia G. Aguilar is a Sociology Professor at De La Salle University- Dasmariñas in the Philippines.