In many states, juvenile records don’t just disappear when a person turns 18. Even when there was no conviction, a record can affect a young person for years after leaving the justice system, potentially making it difficult to go to school, get a job and find housing—the very things that could ease the transition to adulthood.
There are several policy options states can consider to reduce the use of prisons and jails while still holding people accountable and promoting public safety. This brief explores policy options such as improving responses to individuals with mental health needs and making changes to criminal offenses, including decriminalizing and “defelonizing” some offenses.
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NCSL maintains criminal justice legislation and bill tracking databases. Check out the new community supervision and reentry resources.