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Dos and Don'ts for Reducing Recidivism Among Young Adults in the Justice System

"Young adults ages 18 to 24 are often considered the most challenging population under justice system supervision. Data show that they account for a disproportionately high percentage of arrests, particularly for violent crimes, and they are the most likely age group to reoffend.

In addition, young adults of color—particularly black and Hispanic young adults—are over-represented in the justice system.

Recent scientific research has clearly demonstrated that young adulthood is a distinct period of development, with significant cognitive changes occurring into the mid-20s

In response to this enhanced understanding of young adults’ development, a growing number of jurisdictions have explored strategies to use resources more efficiently to improve outcomes for young adults in both the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems. These efforts have included expanding access to juvenile justice supervision and services for all or a subset of young adults; establishing specialized courts, correctional units, and supervision caseloads; and providing appropriate training to staff who work with young adults. While these innovations are noteworthy, there is limited research not only to inform targeted supervision and service strategies for this population, but also to confirm that such strategies are effective in improving outcomes and reducing persistent racial and ethnic disparities across the justice continuum."

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.

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