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Reducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Young Adults in the Juvenile and Adult Criminal Justice Systems

Published Nov 9, 2015, Council of State Governments Justice Center

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Researchers focused on brain development have found that 18- to 24-year-olds—also referred to as young adults — stand out as a distinct developmental group with heightened impulsive behavior, risk taking, and poor decision making. Young adults are also frequently not connected to education or jobs—approximately 1 in 5 young adults (the majority of whom are black or Latino) were out of school and out of work in 2013. These factors increase the odds that a young adult might come into contact with the justice system.

Considerable research exists demonstrating what strategies make it less likely an adolescent or, say, a 35-year-old adult will reoffend, similar research does not exist for young adults. Nor is it clear what strategies can improve education and employment outcomes for this age group. As states work to ensure that limited resources are used efficiently to protect public safety, they need to develop a strategy for addressing the distinct needs of young adults under juvenile or adult criminal justice system supervision. To help state and local officials advance this goal, this issue brief: 

  1. Highlights how young adults are distinct from youth and older adults,
  2. Identifies young adults’ distinct needs, summarizing the limited research available on what works to address these needs, and detailing the unintentional barriers imposed by states to getting these needs met,
  3. Provides recommendations for the steps that policymakers, juvenile and adult criminal justice agency leaders, researchers, and the field can take to improve outcomes for young adults.

Categories: Annual conference, Jurisdictional boundaries, Reforms/Trends

Tags: 2015 Conf

Uploaded Nov 12, 2015

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