Why Young Adults? Why now? Young Adulthood, Criminal Justice and Transition

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


In recent years, an increasing amount of academic attention across a diverse array of disciplines has focused on the transition to adulthood, and an apparent prolongation, fragmentation or disruption of this process in late modern societies. Traditional routines and milestones associated with adult status have been disrupted, corroded or delayed by a constellation of social, economic and cultural forces in Western society, rendering the process of entry into adulthood a more ambiguous, gradual, complex and less uniform process than it once was. Framed as a distinct new phase of the life course by many, this experientially complex period of ‘emerging’ or ‘young’ adulthood represents one during which identities and circumstances fluctuate and consolidate.

Simultaneously the most likely to both commit criminal offences and commence processes of desistance from offending behaviour, young adults (18-24) are disproportionately over-represented in criminal justice caseloads across the UK and Ireland. As such, there have been increasing calls to recognise young adults as a distinct group with distinct needs in criminal justice processes, along with vocal calls for a better understanding of the role that ‘maturity’ plays in young adults’ experiences of crime and criminal justice. This paper frames some of the emerging conceptual and policy debates on the interplay between young adulthood, maturity and criminal justice, and considers the impact of criminal justice transitions on a demographic variously described as ‘the invisible early twenties’ and the ‘lost generation’.
Period15 Jun 2023
Event titleNorth South Criminology Conference
Event typeConference
LocationDublin, IrelandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational