Designing Socially Just Institutions for 18-25-year-olds : Final Report

Vaswani, Nina and McAra, Marianne and Smith, Madeline and Lightowler, Claire and Weaver, Beth and McCulloch, Trish and Fernandes, Fernando and Fletcher, Grace and Kerracher, Ruth (2021) Designing Socially Just Institutions for 18-25-year-olds : Final Report. Scottish Universities Insight Institute, Glasgow.

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Young adults aged 18-25 are increasingly recognised as a distinct group who are caught in a liminal space between child and adult systems in which they do not receive the special protections afforded to children nor the opportunities and entitlements that the majority of adults expect and receive. This is particularly evident within the justice system whereby young adults are treated as adults, yet are still developing the physical, emotional and social maturity to assess risks, consider consequences, make decisions or fully understand and participate in justice processes (Centre for Justice Innovation, 2018). Subsequently, young adults are overrepresented in the justice system, experience poorer outcomes and are more likely to be reconvicted (House of Commons Justice Committee, 2016). While young adults have received specific attention in other policy areas (e.g. care experienced young adults are eligible for aftercare until age 26) and in other jurisdictions, there remains a distinct policy, practice and knowledge gap in relation to justice involved young adults in Scotland. For example, there is currently no specific policy/approach for working with justice involved young adults in Scotland. This programme aimed to support young adults to co-design an approach to justice that upholds their rights, meets their needs, and contributes to a peaceful, socially just and inclusive society. While it predominantly focused on SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), there was a strong interrelationship with poverty (SDG1), inequality (SDG10), wellbeing (SDG3), and gender (SDG5). A series of activities engaging young adults and justice professionals, drawing on design-led approaches, was used to facilitate participation, stimulate thinking and promote innovation.