On the basis of a research-action launched in 2017 at a juvenile detention center in the province of Cagliari, Sardinia, the paper aims to investigate the mechanisms of imagination and representation of future implemented by minors imprisoned because of serious crimes for which the probation or work-release measures are not provided for.
The narratives collected among a sample of 13 prisoners, aged between 14 and 21, reveal a recurring pattern of "disconnection" in their biographical pathways, which are marked by the expiation of the sentence within a total institution (Goffman, 1961). Four main effects can be identified:
a) A fragile projection capacity in the medium term, outside the prison, due to the weight and stigma associated with the deviant past that continues to act as a persistent disinvestment with respect to the possibilities of social reintegration (Carvalho et al, 2018);
b) A segregation with respect to the standard life context of their peers, that compromise the usual processes of identification and mimesis that accompany the definition of the self and one's adult image, and that also extend to social applications, due to the prohibition of using social networks such as Facebook or Twitter in prison;
c) A scarce possibility of individuation in the formation of one's own specific identity, due to the total control of bodies (Foucault, 1975), preferences, sensory expression, mandatorily homogenized by the organization of prison spaces, with the impossibility of customizing their cells for security reasons;
d) An extreme presentification (Leccardi e Ruspini, 2006) imposed by the high turn-over and frequent transfers, which often interrupt the training and apprenticeship projects, jeopardizing the rehabilitation intent to the advantage of the punitive one.