- Executive Office of Public Safety and Security
Media Contact for Executive Office of Public Safety and Security Hosts 2nd Annual Emerging Adult Summit
Elaine Driscoll, Director of Communications and Policy
Norwood — On Wednesday, the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) gathered more than 230 stakeholders for a seminar dedicated to improving outcomes for justice-involved emerging adults. The 2nd Annual Massachusetts Emerging Adult Summit explores best practices for creating successful pathways for emerging adults involved in the justice system. EOPSS delivers the forum in partnership with the Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC), Roca, UTEC, and ForHealth Consulting at UMass Chan Medical School.
Event attendees heard from individuals with lived experience, national experts in supervision and correctional practices, discussed lessons learned from successful models, and engaged in facilitated networking. The registrants included leaders from government, community-based service providers, academia, law enforcement, and institutions devoted to research, practice, and policy. They represented ten counties and over 60 agencies and departments across Massachusetts.
“The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security remains deeply committed to working in partnership with our many stakeholders to create successful pathways for emerging adults with a shared goal of improving people’s lives and strengthening our communities,” said Public Safety and Security Secretary Terrence Reidy. “We are grateful to all who came together today in recognition that emerging adulthood is a critical stage in life that lays the foundation for positive and successful adult years while ultimately determining one’s life trajectory.”
“The Emerging Adult Summit offers a vital opportunity to deepen our understanding of how to support young adults engaged with the justice system, connect these individuals as well as law enforcement to community resources and sustained programming that will support positive outcomes,” said Undersecretary of Criminal Justice Andrew Peck. “We remain focused on advancing strategies, programs and policies to reduce emerging adults’ contact with the justice system, mitigate any long-term negative impacts of justice-system involvement, and promote public safety statewide.”
The seminar offered a forum to enhance collaboration, explore evidence-based and results-driven policies, strengthen networking, foster trust and partnerships, and ensure that organizations know the tools and resources available to support these efforts.
The day-long event included a series of panels and sessions that covered essential topics, including the critical relationship between law enforcement and outreach and service providers, emerging adult programs in correctional settings and their impact on successful reentry, and perspectives from District Attorney Offices about best practices. Public health experts also offered insights about child well-being and trauma-informed responses. Other topics included officer health and wellness and an introduction to the state’s first after-incarceration center, the Community Compass at Open Sky in Worcester.
"It is an honor to collaborate with the distinguished visionaries, human service professionals, justice leaders, and community partners who are committed to learning more and developing comprehensive, innovative solutions to support young adults in Massachusetts," said Lisa M. Colombo, DNP, MHA, RN, executive vice chancellor of ForHealth Consulting at UMass Chan Medical School. "We must continue to work together with emerging and young adults to ensure that healthcare is effective, equitable, and accessible by also addressing the social determinants of health—education, housing, and employment.
“This forum is aimed at fostering a better understanding of the mindset of emerging adults within the context of law enforcement. This understanding is intended to inform the development of policies and procedures that can minimize the interaction between young people and law enforcement, ultimately aiming to reduce their involvement in the criminal justice system,” said Thomas W. Fowler, Chief of Salisbury Police Department and President of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. “The success of such initiatives often depends on the cooperation and engagement of various stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies, community leaders, advocates, and the emerging adult population. The goal is to create a safer environment for everyone in the Commonwealth.”
“We truly appreciate all the leadership from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security in helping to best advance our collective work in serving the emerging adult population. They have helped bring an increased understanding to the specialized needs and opportunities for best serving this population,” said Gregg Croteau, Chief Executive Officer of UTEC, Inc. “Today's summit also represents a year-long commitment to investing in strategies that are proving to be successful in reducing recidivism and increasing a range of positive outcomes. UTEC is proud to partner on this work.”
Additional Emerging Adults Initiatives:
To improve outcomes for justice-involved emerging adults, EOPSS and its secretariat agencies continue implementing programs that help returning young adults achieve sustainable change and healthy life choices, including:
Emerging Adult Leadership Academy: Anticipated for Spring 2024, EOPSS and the MPTC will launch advanced training to support law enforcement in creating Emerging Adult engagement strategies in their communities. The 40-hour leadership academy includes a curriculum designed in collaboration with community partners to provide real-world practical learning experiences to educate and equip law enforcement leaders with the knowledge and skills necessary to implement emerging adult practices.
Emerging Adult Reentry Initiative Grant Program: The Office of Grants and Research has awarded nearly $6 million to nonprofits working to reduce recidivism among offenders aged 18 to 25. The program provides resources for six nonprofit programs working with pre- and post-release offenders in this emerging adult demographic and one technical assistance partner program. FY24 grant awards are expected to be announced this Winter.
The BRAVE Unit: Recognizing the need to support emerging adults living under its care, the Massachusetts Department of Correction created the Building Responsible Adults through Validation and Education (BRAVE) Unit at MCI-Concord. This program provides education and builds support for successful fatherhood. With a capacity of 45 emerging adults, the participants live in a community with 15 fathers whom DOC engages as mentors. Together, the emerging adults, most between 18 and 26 years old, complete programming focused on life skills, including parenting, in a dedicated space with a unit-specific common space and a visitation room for visiting children to play.
Stable Start Housing Initiative: EOPSS has partnered with the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities to develop a program that provides emerging adults with long-term, sustainable housing, and related services to support successful community reintegration.
The Credible Messengers Program: This transformative mentoring initiative supports justice-involved individuals and their families in navigating the transition back into the community. The program connects returning individuals with mentors, known as “credible messengers.” The messengers, who are EOPSS employees, have similar backgrounds and shared lived experiences to those exiting the criminal justice system and, as such are uniquely positioned to serve as credible sources of advice and support.