Projects: Young Adults in Jail

Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ), in partnership with the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC) and with funding from the National Institute of Justice, is conducting an evaluation of a new approach to working with 18 to 21-year-olds on Rikers Island. The project will study the effect of putting young adults in jail in separate housing, with bans on punitive segregation, programming tailored to young adult development, and transition planning.

Vera is supporting the design and implementation of DOC’s new facility to house 18 to 21-year-olds. This unique partnership will help reduce the current overreliance on punitive, ineffective corrections policies by providing the field with rigorous research on alternative models. The findings of the research will help inform other jurisdictions interested in implementing new services targeted to young adults. 

Why focus on young adults in jail?

Current research suggests that the brain does not fully develop until we reach our mid-twenties, and that young adults require tailored interventions that differ from adolescents and older adults, especially in criminal justice settings. As we move toward new models of corrections throughout the United States, we need to have a comprehensive and robust understanding of best practices for young adults in jails, given their specific needs. 

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Featured Expert

Research Director, Center on Youth Justice