Our evaluation of the Brooklyn Young Adult Court—a misdemeanor court for 16- to 24-year-olds—found fewer convictions and less use of jail for participants, with no discernible risk to public safety. The court—a collaboration of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, the Kings County Criminal Court, and the Center for Court Innovation—provides targeted social services and alternatives to the harms of conviction and incarceration, especially on young people.
The Brooklyn Young Adult Court began in 2015 as a pilot project—a response to the compelling body of research showing that young people have markedly different brain development from older adults, particularly as regards decision-making and impulse control. In 2016, the court was expanded to cover nearly all misdemeanors in Brooklyn among 16- to 24-year-olds. This evaluation covers the court’s operations from the start of that expansion into 2018 (the “Young Adult Initiative”).
The evaluation found overwhelmingly positive perceptions of the court among participants. Nearly all participants completed their court mandate. The report closes with recommendations for other jurisdictions looking to take a new approach to young adult justice.