Journal of Pediatrics Publishes "The Justice System and Young Adults With Substance Use Disorders"

Lael Chester & Selen Siringil Perker
February 01, 2021

The January 2021 edition of the Journal of Pediatrics — a publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics — featured an article on harm reduction and developmentally appropriate treatment for young adults with substance use disorders. Titled “The Justice System and Young Adults With Substance Use Disorders,” the article was authored by two members of the Columbia Justice Lab’s Emerging Adult Justice Project: Lael Chester, Director of the program, and Selen Siringil Perker, a Senior Research Associate.

Young adults ages 18 to 25 are more likely to be criminalized for substance use disorders and then put in a system that is not designed to support their recovery. The article presents four principles that should guide how young adults with substance use disorders are cared for, which experts  identified during an interdisciplinary convening by the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center:

Principle 1: To the Extent Possible, Young Adults With SUDs Should Be Diverted From the Criminal Justice System to Effective Care

Principle 2: Young Adults Who Have SUDs and Are Subject to the Formal Justice System Should Have Access to the Full Range of Developmentally Appropriate, High Quality Addiction Treatment Modalities During System Involvement, Particularly During Incarceration and Reentry Processes

Principle 3: The Justice System Should Provide Resources Dedicated to Supporting the Safe Transition of Young Adults From a Period of Incarceration Back to Their Communities

Principle 4: The Justice System Must Reduce the Harm Caused by Criminal Records That Create Insurmountable Barriers to Young Adults’ Full and Healthy Community Engagement and Their Sustained Recovery From SUDs

Access the full report HERE.

Read the Boston Medical Center article on the report HERE.

Journal of Pediatrics