Home > Turnaround youth: young adults (18-24) in the criminal justice system - the case for a distinct approach.

Costello, Liza (2015) Turnaround youth: young adults (18-24) in the criminal justice system - the case for a distinct approach. Dublin: Irish Prison Reform Trust.

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This IPRT report presents the case for the differential treatment of young adults aged 18-24 who come in contact with the criminal justice system, and is grounded in emerging evidence, best practice, and informed by input from young people with experience of the issues.

This report gathers together the significant existing body of international research that demonstrates that several factors place young adults more at risk of becoming involved in offending behaviour and make the prison system an inappropriate and counterproductive means of dealing with young adults.

  • The scientific evidence shows that the human brain and maturity continue to develop beyond adolescence and into one’s mid-twenties, leaving young adults with a lower capacity for self-regulation. Young adults, like adolescents, can be particularly vulnerable to peer pressure.
  • Socioeconomic factors also place affected young people at higher risk of offending – these include not being in employment, education or training (NEET), living in a disadvantaged area, experiencing family-related problems during adolescence and becoming substance dependent.

In addition, certain groups of vulnerable young adults face a particularly increased risk of becoming involved in crime. This includes those who have an acquired brain injury, which is more likely to occur among younger age groups, and those with a history of homelessness that persists into adulthood.  Of those belonging to the minority of young adults who engage in violent crime, risk factors include comingfrom a history of serious disadvantage and adversity.

Despite these distinct challenges, the evidence also shows that the right interventions at the right points of time can successfully lead to a reduction in the offending rate among young adults. 

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Report
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Crime prevention
May 2015
44 p.
Irish Prison Reform Trust
Place of Publication
ISBN: 978-0-9573037-6-8
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)
Related (external) link

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