Transitioning from being a youth typically living with a parent to establishing self- sufficiency as a mature adult is a challenging period, and how a person handles that transition greatly impacts the rest of their life trajectory. In many cases, emerging adults between the ages of 18 to 25 must overcome challenges faced as a youth, including family breakdown, abuse and neglect, lack of positive role models, inadequate education, and involvement in the justice system.

Though the law is the weakest form of social control, as the bonds of family and community fray, it is also the last resort. Unfortunately, the system of adult community supervision has largely proven ill-equipped to deal with emerging adults between the ages of 18 and 25, as evidenced by failure rates among this population that dwarf those of their older counterparts.

Key Points

  • Emergingadultsaremore prone than their older counterparts to risk-taking behavior, impulsivity, resistance to authority, and negative peer influences.
  • Emergingadultsaccount for a disproportionate share of arrests and revoca- tions from probation.
  • Emergingadultsare increasingly less likely to be married and employed than their older counter- parts, which are relevant factors for risk of recidivism and the level of supervision and services needed to achieve positive outcomes.
  • Specializedcourtsand probation caseloads targeting emerging adults have shown promise in reducing recidivism and improving positive outcomes such as employment.
  • Communitypartnerships that leverage strategies such as the use of trusted messengers as mentors, case management, victim- offender reconciliation, and vocational training hold potential both as supple- ments and alternatives to basic probation.