University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications


Juvenile Justice, Mental Health, and the Transition to Adulthood: A Review of Service System Involvement and Unmet Needs in the U.S

UMMS Affiliation

Transitions Research and Training Center, Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center, Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Juvenile Law | Law and Psychology | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


Although adolescents are the primary focus of juvenile justice, a significant number of young people involved with this system are considered transition age youth (i.e., 16-25 years of age). The aim of this review is to summarize the specific needs of transition age youth with mental health conditions involved with the juvenile justice system, identify the multiple service systems relevant to this group, and offer recommendations for policies and practice. A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify and synthesize the literature. Findings highlight the paucity of research specific to transition age youth. Thus, we also summarized relevant research on justice-involved adolescents, with a focus evaluating its potential relevance in the context of the unique milestones of the transition age, including finishing one's education, setting and working towards vocational goals, and transitioning from ones' family of origin to more independent living situations. Existing programs and initiatives relevant to transition age youth with mental health conditions are highlighted, and nine specific recommendations for policy and practice are offered.


evidence-based practice, juvenile justice, mental health, service utilization, transition age youth

DOI of Published Version



Child Youth Serv Rev. 2015 Sep 1;56:139-148. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Children and youth services review

PubMed ID