This article revisits the 5 year analysis-inspired research-action by a psychiatric team working with adolescents incarcerated in a Juvenile Detention Center. It gives details of the political difficulties that the deontological and technical methodology of this work encountered when dealing with psychiatric colleagues who intervene in prison, with the penal administration and with Court Youth Protection. It locates within the more general crisis in Healthcare-Justice relations a certain trend towards psychiatric minimalism when dealing with incarcerated adolescents. At the level of the participants’ social psychology, it exposes how difficult it is for healthcare to remain independent within prisons, with regard to the difficult personalities of some prisoners, the humanist side of the Penal Administration, and the re-integration of Judicial Youth Protective Services into prisons for minors since the beginning of the 20th century. It critiques the principle axes of the rhetoric known as « ad hoc », which provides ideological and technical support for 7 youth facilities with considerable budgets. Lastly, it shows the limits, due to the structural character of security-based penal authoritarianism and the action of the stock market, of attempting to organize the incarceration of minors according to the model of a medico-social institution.
Adolescence, 2009, T. 27, n°2, pp. 383-397.