Traditional criminal justice responses have fallen short on meeting the needs of young adults involved in the justice system. Across the country, policymakers are starting to address the legacy of unbalanced policies and practices that have resulted in the uniquely American phenomenon of 2.2 million people being incarcerated—a legacy that disproportionately impacts poor, young men of color. The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office (MSO) in Massachusetts has blazed a trail for youth justice reform in the United States through its People Achieving Change Together (P.A.C.T.) community, a repurposed housing unit innovatively designed for pretrial and sentenced young adults ages 18 to 24.
The release of this report from the Vera Institute of Justice marks the one year anniversary of P.A.C.T.; the publication provides an overview of the unit and reflections on lessons learned to date. The foundation of P.A.C.T. is inspired by the German and Norwegian jail and prison systems, anchored in a commitment to human dignity for incarcerated people and organized around the goal of preparing people to return home and be successful.