Whilst the number of young adults in the prison population has decreased, the proportion of BAME young adults has risen. T2A is very concerned by this growing disproportionality of BAME young adults in the criminal justice system and in particular the prison population. It is also vital that the ‘double disadvantage’ faced by BAME women in the CJS is recognised and addressed. The government’s response to this Review will be crucial in addressing these longstanding disparities.
The Review is right to identify the specific needs of young adults, and its recommendations for policy and practice reform would go some of the way towards T2A’s aim of promoting and disseminating the evidence for a distinct approach to the 18-25 young adult population involved in the CJS.
In particular, T2A supports the proposal that every young adults’ maturity should be taken into account in criminal justice decision-making. This reflects evidence from neuroscience that shows young adults’ brains are not fully developed until the mid-20s.
T2A also welcomes the recommendation that professionals have the option of “extending the support structures of the youth justice system for offenders over the age of 18 who are judged to have low levels of maturity”. This is a common-sense approach that has been tried and tested in most European countries, where youth justice routinely extends beyond 18, and in some cases well into the late 20s.
T2A and its partners await the official response to the Review with interest, and will seek to support its implementation