Irish Penal Reform Trust

UK: The Howard League for Penal Reform and the Transition to Adulthood (T2A), 'Judging Maturity: exploring the role of maturity in the sentencing of young adults'

18th July 2017

The report, Judging Maturity: exploring the role of maturity in the sentencing of young adults, gives insight into how judges view the concept of maturity in the sentencing of young adults.

The report recommends that the Sentencing Council should work towards developing formal sentencing principles for young adults, similar to the principles that are in place for children.

Tens of thousands of individuals from this demographic appear before the court every year. Yet, the charity’s research found that, in almost half of all the sentence appeal cases, neither age nor maturity were considered, despite the substantial amount of evidence that suggests that young adults (aged 18 to 25) should be treated as a distinct group from older adults. Research in neuroscience has proven that brain development continues well into the mid-20s, showing that reaching adulthood is a process, not an event.

This particular body of research has analysed 174 senior court judgement concerning young adults, during the financial year 2015-16, and again highlights a lack of consideration for the maturity of the individual in the sentencing process.

Younger adults are more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system, but research shows that with the right supports they are also the group that is most likely to stop offending as they ‘grow out of crime’.

Debbie Pippard, Vice Chair of the T2A Alliance, “Taking account of their maturity as well as their specific needs leads to lower reoffending rates and better social outcomes, such as increased employment.”

This research hopes to inform better sentencing decisions, by incorporating the principles of the sentencing of children in future sentencing of young adults.

Read about the report here.

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