U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Environmental Scan of Developmentally Appropriate Criminal Justice Responses to Justice-Involved Young Adults

NCJ Number
Connie Hayek
Date Published
June 2016
87 pages
The objective of this "environmental scan" was to identify programs that address the developmental needs of young adults involved in the criminal justice system.
The "environmental scan" was a multi-pronged approach that identified relevant programs and legislation using a literature review, web searches, social-media searches, and a research review. Also included in the scan were interviews with professionals from advocacy and research agencies, stakeholder groups, State and local corrections agencies, and criminal justice professionals. A common theme for all programs for justice-involved young adults is the inclusion of case management or coordination, combined with intensive services. Individualized services included education or vocational training, mental and/or substance abuse treatment, and assistance with housing and employment. Many programs offered reduced sentencing or probation, expungement of records, or a reduction in charges as an incentive for participation. Programs ranged from those in the developmental stages to several that have provided services and supports to justice-involved young adults for several years. Massachusetts has one of the most innovative programs. A network of programs repeatedly reaches out to young-adult offenders to engage them in services rather than requiring voluntary participation at the onset of services. Another innovation is "pay for success" structure in which the service agency is compensated based on its achievement of predefined outcomes. For programs involving young-adult offenders, success is generally defined as reduction in recidivism rates. All established programs included in the scan identified some level of success, although this was often established anecdotally. Legislative changes in the approach to managing young adults in the justice system have had three main themes: raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction, consideration of mitigating circumstances in sentencing, and the expungement of the criminal records of young adults. Appended descriptions of programs and legislation that focus on justice-involved young adults