IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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'In the criminal justice system, maturity is more important than age'

1st June 2015

The Howard League for Penal Reform has published a new report entitled You can't put a number on it, which examines the different stages of the criminal justice process from a youth's perspective.

This participation report examines the experiences of youths at different stages of the criminal justice process. The aim of the report is to develop awareness among professionals working with young adults about their experiences, feelings and frustrations with the criminal justice system. The report also aims to outline what support young adults want and what support they are entitled to.

The overall consensus of the report demonstrates how the youths feel that the criminal justice system puts their lives on pause, stalls maturation and prevents them from reaching adulthood. The youths who participated in this research convey their desire for a system that supports the development of the interpersonal and practical life skills they may lack due to disadvantaged childhoods. The young participants of this report outline a number of recommendations for a reform of how the criminal justice system could deal with young offenders in a more effective manner. These include:

  • The criminal justice system should take a distinct approach to young adults that recognises their development and varying levels of maturity. An approach that is different from both the youth system and the one for older adults.
  • Consistent professional support to help them navigate through the system, the law, transitions between service and to help them develop life skills.
  • Improvement in the relationships between young adults, the police and probation, both individually a through a Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA).
  • Young-adult appropriate and gender sensitive accommodation options available to aid the resettlement process and encourage permanent desistance.

Read the report in full here.