This report is part of a series that explores policies that impact the front end of the criminal justice system. Each brief looks at who is entering the “front door” of the criminal justice system and gives examples of legislation, national initiatives, best practices, promising programs, and key research on timely issues. The series provides legislatures with the tools they need to consider cost-effective policies that protect public safety.
Young adults, ages 18-24, represent 9.5% of the U.S. population, yet account for 23% of all arrests. Statistics show this age group also has some of the highest rates of behavioral health disorders. It is estimated that 1 in 7 young adults has a substance-use disorder, a rate more than double any other age group. Additionally, young adults have, for years, remained the age group with the highest rate of alcohol disorders. Research also shows that 75% of mental illnesses begin before age 24, and rates of serious mental illness among young adults have been on the rise since 2008.
To read more of the National Conference of State Legislators' article, please click here.