Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Help Young Adults Succeed: Create Alternatives to the Justice System

By Marcus Bullock
Guest Blogger

On October 2nd, the Washington Post published “Why 21 year-old offenders should be tried in family court”. As I read the op-ed, I was reminded of the young guys that I knew while I was locked up as a 15-year-old kid.

The young men around me may have been older than I was, but these guys were no different from me. For Youth Justice Awareness Month at the Campaign for Youth Justice, I created this video about why experiencing prison while still developing is extremely harmful for young adults. As I learn about the brain science and behavior research that shows what seemed obvious to me at the time, I now know that there’s not that much difference, developmentally, between an older teenager and a young adult.Now that we know this, I hope we can create approaches and programs that are based on what science tells us.

Instead of treating young adults the same as if they are much older and putting them in the criminal justice system, we should create systems for diversion, community-based services, and maybe even special facilities to address their unique needs. I now run my own home remodeling business, and am the founder of the Flikshop mobile app, which generates postcards from digital downloads to help keep people in prison more connected to their loved ones. If we provide supports that recognize the needs of young adults, even if they are in the adult criminal justice system, we can see lots more people succeed like me. Doing this would be the ideal game plan, and would ensure that our communities are safer in the long run.

Marcus Bullock is the CEO and Founder of the mobile app Flikshop. He is also a Board Member at the Justice Policy Institute.