Alternatives to Incarceration for Juveniles

Providing dedicated, developmentally-appropriate interventions to people aged 16 to 24 will reduce young adult recidivism.

  • Nationwide, young adults under 24 have the highest recidivism of any age group, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report from 2014.
  • Targeted interventions appropriate for young adults have been shown to make a positive and lasting impact. For example, a Massachusetts program offering programs and services to young men at high risk of re-offense showed a 65% reduction in recidivism and a 100% increase in employment when compared with a similar population.
  • Involvement with the criminal justice system can have a lasting, negative impact on young adults. For example, 70% of males aged 18-24 have attained at least a high school diploma or GED. Among incarcerated men of the same age, less than 20% have attained at least a high school diploma.



The State Court System, the five district attorneys’ offices, the NYPD, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, and the Departments of Probation and Correction are all in the process of piloting or rolling out expanded programming to improve how the City handles justice-involved young people. These programs range from eliminating punitive segregation for people under 21 to connecting young people with treatment and support instead of criminal convictions for drug and prostitution offenses. Many of these programs have already shown promising results.

Learn more about these programs here.