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African-American Youth in The Juvenile Justice System

African-American Youth in The Juvenile Justice System

Promoting Alternatives: The JDAI Most activists in the Movement To End Youth Incarceration believe that the best way to mitigate the impact of detention and incarceration on our youth is to reduce the number of youth that pass through the system. By providing credible alternatives to incarceration, this portion of the movement provides opportunities for communities to treat, rather than punish, young offenders—much the way that the juvenile justice system was founded to do. The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) is a private-public partnership being implemented nationwide, with pilot programs in California, Oregon, New Mexico and Illinois. Their goal is to make sure that locked detention is used only when absolutely necessary. The JDAI has produced some promising results from their programs. Detention center populations fell by between 14% and 88% in JDAI counties over the course of 7 years (1996–2003). These same counties saw declines in juvenile arrests (an indicator of overall juvenile crime rates) during the same time period ranging from 37–54%. Alternatives for juvenile detention centers for rehabilitation and reentry processes for those already incarcerated requires the work of counselors who understand the psychology of these individuals from law enforcement bodies to develop effective diversion programs are the best strategy to ensure children and youth to stay away from detention centers. Diversion programs could include everything from counseling to peer mentoring in order to improve the relationship in the community and remove the stigma of criminal youth. There are solutions proven effective for those communities that impose them. For example, intervention centers are a progressive solution where trouble kids get the opportunity to be disciplined to correct behavior but the process involves family involvement, community service activities, and one-on-one therapy. Legislation work such as Colorado's Smart School Discipline Law work to implement prevention strategies in an early stage starting in school, revise and provide adequate training to police officers in order to find proper disciplinary practice when dealing with trouble students. The initiative is now part of a bigger network to be implemented nationwide. Page 36 of 114

III. African-American Disparities in Youth Incarceration Despite long-term declines in youth incarceration, the disparity at which black and white youth are held in juvenile facilities has grown. As of 2015, African American youth were five times as likely as white youth to be detained or committed to youth facilities. The Sentencing Project | September 12, 2017 African Americans 5X More Likely than Whites to be Held Black youth were more than five times as likely to be detained or committed compared to white youth, according to data from the Department of Justice collected in October 2015 and recently released.1) Racial and ethnic disparities have long-plagued juvenile justice systems nationwide, and the new data show the problem is increasing. In 2001, black youth were four times as likely as whites to be incarcerated. Juvenile facilities, including 1,800 residential treatment centers, detention centers, training schools, and juvenile jails and prisons2) held 48,043 youth as of October 2015.3) Forty-four percent of these youth were African American, despite the fact that African Americans comprise only 16 percent of all youth in the United States.4) African American youth are more likely to be in custody than white youth in every state but one, Hawaii. Between 2001 and 2015, overall juvenile placements fell by 54 percent. However, white youth placements have declined faster than black youth placements, resulting in a worsening of already significant racial disparity. Page 37 of 114

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