Young Adult Court
SF Young Adult Court
The last two decades have given rise to a body of research establishing that young adults are fundamentally different from both juveniles and older adults in how they process information and make decisions.
The prefrontal cortex of the brain — responsible for our cognitive processing and impulse control — does not fully develop until the early to mid-20s. At the same time that young adults are going through this critical developmental phase, many find themselves facing adulthood without supportive family, housing, education, employment, and other critical protective factors that can help them navigate this tumultuous period. Our traditional justice system is not designed to address cases involving these individuals, who are qualitatively different in development, skills, and needs from both children and older adults.
Young Adult Court (YAC) in San Francisco
Young Adult Court (YAC) in San Francisco was established in summer 2015 for eligible young adults, ages 18-24. The court strives to align opportunities for accountability and transformation with the unique needs and developmental stage of this age group. The caseload in the first year will serve approximately 60-80 clients. Partner agencies include the Superior Court, Office of the District Attorney, Office of the Public Defender, the Department of Public Health, Adult Probation Department, Department of Children, Youth and their Families, the San Francisco Police Department, and Family Service Agency/Felton. YAC is the first of its kind nationwide.
January 31, 2019, Young Adult Court Graduation- (photo from left to right) Felton Institute Case Manager Ashli Rocha, TAC graduate Alonso, and YAC Judge Bruce E. Chan.
YAC News & articles
- National League of Cities Report on Young Adult Justice 2022
- Shamann Walton, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, speaks at Young Adult Court December, 2021 Graduation
- View Supervisor Shamann Walton's Instagram Post on the Young Adult Court Graduation Program
- Young Adult Court featured on KPIX May, 2021
- The San Francisco Chronicle, June 29, 2018
Graduating in a S.F. Courtroom
- BBC World Service, November 06, 2017
Neurolaw & Order
- Boston Globe, November 02, 2017
Eighteen year olds can barely rent cars. Are they old enough for jail?
- The New York Times, April 17, 2017
A California Court for Young Adults Calls on Science
- San Francisco Magazine, September 2016
Breaking Free: A new program in San Francisco attempts to shatter the school-to-prison pipeline
- Newsweek, April 2016
Neuroscience Is Changing the Debate Over What Role Age Should Play in the Courts
- CommonWealth, March 2016
Building a developmentally appropriate justice system