Young adults

We are working with young adults to find out what they think about the criminal justice system

On behalf of the Transition to Adulthood Alliance and with support from the Barrow Cardbury Trust we are exploring the issue of maturity and how it affects young adults in the criminal justice system.

We are talking to young adults about their experiences of:

  • Arrest
  • Trial
  • Sentencing
  • Prison
  • Release & moving on

Young adult blogs

Read more about what Young Advisors think about being a young adult and maturing in the criminal justice system.


'Over the years I feel like I’ve matured with how I react and deal with situations, but I don’t think who I am has changed' - Young Advisor Samantha reflects on her own maturing process in Growing Up and Moving On.

What does it feel like to stopped and searched by the police as a young adult, long after you were last in conflict with the law? Young Advisor Samir explains, and gives some ideas for how the police could improve their relationship with young adults.

What's it like finding yourself in prison at 19? Young Advisor Laura felt The more I said, the less I was heard.

Young Advisor Claudius considers what it feels like growing up in jail and how prison impacts on building and keeping relationships?

What happens when a young adult is released from prison without help to get the proper formal ID they need? Frankie tells us more...

One young person who spent time in prison as a young adult asks Does Prison Work?

In this frank blog, Flora desribes what it's like to witness self harm in a women's prison as a young adult  [warning: this article may cause distress or trigger] You See A lot of Self Harm Here, Quite a Few Deaths.



Through the U R Boss project Young Advisors have looked at issues affecting young adults.

The Howard League has been working with the T2A Alliance for some time to raise the recognition of young adults as a distinct group in the criminal justice system and campaign for change.

During his internship, Young Advisor Suleman attended a T2A meeting and presented U R Boss to other organisations there. 

Young Advisors have always been keen to highlight young people's projects that don't have a strict cut off age and keep supporting young people during their transition into adulthood. This has been one of the features they have picked out as good practice when judging the Children and Young People's Community Programme and Police-Led Diversion projects for the Howard League Community Awards in both 2013 and 2014.

U R Boss Youth Participation staff have worked with young adults in custody to find out what they think. Young adults talked about the importance of getting the basics right before they left custody so things were in place for them. They didn't think the standard or availabilty of education in prison was good enough. They thought that having a criminal record was likely to impact on them getting a job, which was crucial to them getting on in life. They also worried about bullying, the levels of violence in prison and the impact of having been in custody on how they felt.

Much of what the young adults said went on to help build the young people's manifesto

Youth Participation Officer Symeon Brown later reflected on the importance of having their voice heard that the lads in custody had raised in his blog Why Does Nobody Talk to Us?

Young adults in the news

The needs of young adults in the criminal justice system are almost totally ignored, and treating them exactly the same as anyone else just makes the problems they face in an already broken system even greater. Here are some recent examples of these problems being discussed in the news:

The crisis in prisons caused by overcrowding and understaffing has led to several prisons holding young adults making national headlines for the chaos and violence taking place behind bars. Prisons such as Glen Parva, Feltham, Aylesbury, Brinsford and Isis have seen large increases in assaults on both prisoners and staff as well as high levels of self-harm and suicide.

A government report into 80 suicides of inmates aged 18-24 has found the government does not do enough for mental health needs in this age range. Responding to the findings, Deborah Coles, co-director of Inquest, said: "These deaths are the most extreme outcome of a system that fails some of society's most troubled and disadvantaged young people, many just out of childhood."

Ongoing cuts to youth services have led to 2,000 fewer youth workers and the closure of around 350 youth centres. Diverting young adults towards services like these and away from the criminal justice system saves money and reduces crime.


But it's not all bad news!!

All over the country there are great organisations which help young adults stay out of prison and inspiring young adults turning their lives around. Natalie Atkinson, who committed over 100 offences as a teenager, recently graduated from university with a first in criminology and Kenny Imafidon, who spent time in Feltham, has used his own experiences  to write and campaign about engaging young people in politics, and tackling gangs and youth violence.

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