Maturity, young adults and the Criminal Justice System

Posted on Monday 6th June 2011

The Barrow Cadbury Trust commissioned the University of Birmingham's Institute of Applied Social Studies to conduct an independent and systematic literature review on the subject of maturity, young adults and the Criminal Justice System.

The focus of the review was on young adults aged 18-24 years in relation to three major bodies of literature considered relevant to maturity and young adults: neurological, psychological and criminological.

The key findings are:

  1. The research supports the T2A position that the level of maturity exhibited by a young adult offender should be considered within the legal and sentencing process.
  2. The research points emphatically to the inappropriateness of an arbitrary age limit as the key factor for determining the judicial response that an offender should receive.
  3. Neurological research identifies that brain development continues into early adulthood; the human brain is not 'mature' until the early to mid-twenties.
  4. The research identifies the significant maturity factor as 'temperance', which continues to influence antisocial decision-making during young adulthood.
  5. Young adulthood is a critical period when many individuals will naturally 'grow out of crime'.

Read the full report

Maturity, young adults and criminal justice: A literature review (pdf; 717KB; opens in new window)