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Juvenile Justice - Young Adults/Youthful Offenders

In this paper, [the authors] propose a different kind of criminal justice for young men and women. We propose new institutional methods and processes for young adult justice, for those ages 18 to 24, that can meet the realities of life for today’s disadvantaged youth involved in crime and the criminal justice system. What we envision seek to extend the reach of the juvenile court while also using it as a basis for a new system that reflects a modern understanding of the transition into adulthood. Our central recommendation is that the age of juvenile court jurisdiction be raised to at least 21 years old with additional, gradually diminishing protections for young adults up to age 24 or 25 (p. 2-3).

This resource presents a concrete list of dos and don’ts that policymakers and justice system leaders can use to guide policy and practice changes focused on young adults in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems. Informed by both research and practice, the list outlines supervision and service strategies that states and localities should and should not implement in order to use resources more efficiently to improve outcomes for young adults in the justice system.

The brief defines emerging adults as the group of individuals transitioning from childhood to adulthood that, despite facing the worst criminal justice outcomes and recidivism rates, signify a critical opportunity for criminal justice intervention via evidence-informed policies and programming that both reduce crime and enhance socio-economic outcomes.

Little is known about youth who were previously placed in a detention facility and what factors predict a subsequent recidivism to placement. This study of a two-county juvenile offender population (one urban and one rural) investigates what demographic, educational, mental health, substance dependence, and courtrelated variables predict recidivism to detention placement. Findings from logistic regression analysis indicate that seven variables significantly predict juvenile offenders’ recidivism placement, some expected and some unexpected. Predictors that made recidivism more likely include youth with a previous conduct disorder diagnosis, a self-reported previous suicide attempt, age, and number of court offenses. Conversely, predictors that made recidivism less likely include race (Caucasian), a previous attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnosis, and a misdemeanor conviction. These findings indicate that the use of a community-based suicide and mental health screening and referral approach may help to identify and assist these high-risk youth in receiving needed services prior to juvenile court involvement or during delinquency adjudication (p. 1).

Researchers of criminal behavior are taking a more data-driven approach to community corrections. Rather than focusing solely on professional experience or anecdotal successes — key factors that often drive public policy in social services — they are identifying evidence-based practices that rely on empirical research and produce measurable outcomes. The challenge for providers is to bridge the gap between theoretical best practices and practicable intervention models that reduce recidivism rates and keep communities safe. One organization that is finding success in bridging this gap is Massachusetts-based Roca, Inc. (p. 1)

The key theme that emerged from JPI’s convening of stakeholders to discuss better ways of working with young adults, is that if a more effective and targeted approach to this population can be developed, it would help reduce the use of incarceration for the 400,000-plus 18 to 24-year-olds estimated to be in prison or jail, without compromising public safety (p. 24).

This website provides access to the report and webinar, both entitled, "Environmental Scan of Criminal Justice Responses to Justice-Involved Young Adult". The first step in addressing how we deal with young adults in the criminal justice system is knowing what is out there — and following up with open communication and collaboration. To help jump-start and inform the conversation, NIJ conducted an environmental scan to explore programs and legislation that address the developmental needs of young adults involved in the criminal justice system … The results of the environmental scan highlight the fact that formalized programs serving justice-involved young adults are diverse, jurisdiction-specific, and often rely on local expertise and initiative. Programs are categorized based on the lead organization within the justice system: young adult courts, probation/parole, district attorney offices, community partnerships, prison-based and advocacy and research programs. Some common approaches and strategies to address the needs of young adults were identified. For example, most programs used case management and provided intensive services for substance abuse and mental health problems, educational needs, vocational training and stable housing.

This brief, from the CSG Justice Center, is designed to help state and local officials better support young adults in the justice system. It identifies these young adults’ distinct needs, summaries the limited research available on what works to address these needs, and provides recommendations for steps that policymakers, juvenile and adult criminal justice agency leaders, researchers, and the field can take to improve outcomes" (website). Part I—How Young Adults Are Developmentally Different from Youth and Older Adults: how young adults are distinct from youth; how young adults are distinct from adults; and young adults by the numbers--arrest rates, incarceration rates, and recidivism rates. Part II—Opportunities and Challenges to Meeting Young Adults' Needs: young adults under justice system supervision have distinct needs and few programs exist that are proven to effectively meet these needs—criminal thinking and behavior, education, employment, mental health and substance use, and transition to independence; young adults face systemic barriers to meeting their needs—aging out of protective networks and lack of coordination across service systems, and collateral consequences. Part III—Recommendations: four recommendations; and promising models for young adults under justice system supervision—Multisystemic Therapy for Emerging Adults (MST-EA), and the Roca nonprofit organization in Massachusetts; and increasing cross-systems coordination to improve outcomes for young adults in Iowa—the Iowa Collaboration for Youth Development (ICYD).

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

This brief, from the CSG Justice Center, is designed to help state and local officials better support young adults in the justice system. It identifies these young adults’ distinct needs, summaries the limited research available on what works to address these needs, and provides recommendations for steps that policymakers, juvenile and adult criminal justice agency leaders, researchers, and the field can take to improve outcomes.

There is considerable evidence that mindfulness-based interventions help in the treatment of psychological and emotional distress. Incarcerated young men are known to experience difficulties in these areas. However, the utility of mindfulness-based interventions among incarcerated young men remains largely unknown. This thesis set out to explore mindfulness for young men, aged 18-21 years, housed at Her Majesty’s Young Offender Institute in Polmont, Scotland (p. 1).

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