The Least of These: Chronic Exposure to Violence and HIV Risk Behaviors Among African American Male Violent Youth Offenders Detained in an Adult Jail

Joseph Richardson, Alyssa Robillard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Each year 200,000 youth under the age of 18 are waived to adult criminal court, and African American males are disproportionately overrepresented among youth detained in adult jails. This population of vulnerable youth may be at greater risk for early violent death and HIV infection than youth detained in juvenile settings. The purpose of this study was to examine the social context of HIV risk behavior, substance misuse, and violence among youth offenders detained in adult jail using Elijah Anderson's Code of the Street as a conceptual framework. Focus groups were conducted with 15 African American male youth (aged 15-17 years) detained at a city jail. Content analysis revealed several themes related to violence and HIV risk, including (1) HIV literacy and condom use, (2) substance use and sex, and (3) violence and the code of the street. These rich, descriptive narratives suggest that youth offenders exposed to chronic violence also engage in HIV risk-related behaviors. Findings may also aid in the development of age- and culturally appropriate interventions for this population while they are detained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-62
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Black Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • African American males
  • HIV
  • adult jails
  • transferred youth
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Applied Psychology

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