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Youthmen with big man mentality: An exploration and analysis of the narratives of young offenders in Trinidad and Tobago / Melissa Mendez
Swansea University Author: Melissa Mendez
There is an ongoing moral panic about ‘the’ juvenile delinquent in Trinidad and Tobago. The media present, with increasing regularity, stories about problematic youth—particularly young men—giving the impression that youth crime is spiralling out of control, when official statistical evidence sugges...
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There is an ongoing moral panic about ‘the’ juvenile delinquent in Trinidad and Tobago. The media present, with increasing regularity, stories about problematic youth—particularly young men—giving the impression that youth crime is spiralling out of control, when official statistical evidence suggests otherwise. Research into youth offending in Trinidad and Tobago has been mainly quantitative, considering the risks and protective factors associated with delinquency and desistance. The extant research also analyses and discusses the data uncovered within the framework of Western criminological theories. Little attempt is made to use, adapt, or develop theory in the Caribbean or Trinbagonian context in which the data was produced. The present study addresses the dearth of qualitative data on young offenders in Trinidad and Tobago by presenting the narratives of a census population of convicted juvenile offenders housed at the Youth Training Centre in Trinidad. These narratives are analysed and interpreted within the socio-economic, cultural and historical context in which these accounts were produced, taking up a 40-year-old call for the development of a ‘Caribbean Criminology’. The main purpose of this project was to gain an understanding of the subjective lived experiences of incarcerated young men in Trinidad and Tobago; how they feel, think, act and make sense of the world. I discuss the implications of the narratives presented with regard to broader sociological-criminological questions about state legitimacy and procedural justice and within the context of the families and communities from which my participants come. My findings offer insight into stigmatised communities and suggest the need for a reconceptualisation of poverty as a structural deficit rather than an individual failing, and a need for state officials to recognise the social and cultural injustice that have blocked opportunities for a number of citizens.
This thesis is available at http://orca.cf.ac.uk/118782/
Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law