Middlesex sheriff and Vera Institute plans for young-adult unit

It’s no secret that many young adult offenders find themselves in a vicious cycle. After getting released from jail, there’s a decent chance they’ll re-offend within three years. Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian admits jails must change how they serve this population. As a result, the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction plans to open a new unit that’s specially designed for young adult offenders. The sheriff ’s office will repurpose existing space at the jail and house of correction; it will be for individuals ages 18 to 24.

They’re working on this with the Vera Institute of Justice and UTEC, a community-based program for young adults with histories of incarceration. The Middlesex Sheriff ’s Office is the first local jurisdiction in the nation to work with Vera to create such a specialized unit.

“The approach we’ve taken historically with this population is not working,” Koutoujian said in a statement. “It’s not in the best interest of our communities, these individuals or their families to continue down this path. New approaches — based on scientific research and proven practices — are required for us to break the cycle of incarceration these young adults find themselves trapped in.”