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Youthful offender

"This bulletin proposes a new criminal justice paradigm for young men and women ages 18 to 24. Noting that the human brain has been clinically shown to not fully mature prior to the mid-20s, the authors suggest new institutional methods and processes for young adult justice that can meet the realities of life for today’s disadvantaged youth involved in crime and the criminal justice system. The authors envision a system that extends the reach of the juvenile court to reflect a modern understanding of the transition into adulthood. Their primary recommendation is that the age of juvenile court jurisdiction be raised to 21, with additional, gradually diminishing protections for young adults up to age 24 or 25." Sections include: introduction and history; why young adults are a distinct population—brain development in young adults, and the changing context of adulthood; current outcomes for justice-involved youth; implications for an age-responsive criminal justice system—pre-arrest and arrest, pretrial, courts, community-based programs, incarceration, and collateral Consequences; San Francisco Adult Probation Transitional Age Youth (TAY) Unit; Roca—a model community program for high-risk young men in Massachusetts; future facilities in New York and California; and conclusion.

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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 review examines research findings related to mentoring youth and young adults who are reentering their communities after confinement by the justice system. Four areas are addressed for this population: (1) mentoring effectiveness; (2) the moderation of mentoring effectiveness, or the extent to which effectiveness is related to other variables, such as the characteristics of mentors, mentees, or program practices; (3) the mediation of mentoring effectiveness, or the extent to which intervening processes link mentoring to youth outcomes; and (4) the reach, implementation, adoption, and sustainability of programs and other supports for mentoring of reentering youth and young adults.

This website "is designed to support and promote youth justice programs that are informed by the science of adolescent development. Despite the obvious relevance of developmental science for the design and operation of youth justice programs, these concepts are not yet the dominant framework for interventions in youth justice. One way to increase the efficacy of youth justice would be to build programs and policies using the Positive Youth Justice Model (PYJ), which is a practical guide for applying developmental principles in justice settings … The Positive Youth Justice website is designed to explain and disseminate the concepts and strategies suggested by the PYJ Model." Points of access include: overview; background; changing the frame; disruption; social control theory; social learning theory; positive youth development; library; PYJ Program Medals; and award-winning programs.

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This web page provides information regarding the implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) “youthful inmate” standard. Youthful inmates are any incarcerated individuals under the age of 18. Links are provided to a two part webinar series regarding this implementation in three jurisdictions—Oregon, North Carolina, and Indiana. Other sections provide information about: the “youthful inmate” PREA Standard 115.14; options for implementation—reducing the number of youthful inmates in adult facilities, entering into cooperative agreements with outside jurisdictions to facilitate compliance, and confining all youthful inmates to separate housing units; lessons learned; and resources for additional information.

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