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African-American Youth in The Juvenile Justice System

African-American Youth in The Juvenile Justice System

CONCLUSIONS AND

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Overrepresentation of blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians in the juvenile justice system requires immediate attention. The existence of disproportional racial representation in the juvenile justice system raises concerns about differential exposure to risks and the fairness and equal treatment of youth by the police, courts, and other players in the juvenile justice system. Given the importance of the problem of race, crime, and juvenile justice in the United States, the scant research attention that has been paid to understanding the factors contributing to racial disparities in the juvenile justice system is shocking. Recommendation: The panel recommends that a comprehensive, systematic, and long-term agenda for acquiring empirical knowledge to understand and meaningfully reduce problems of unwarranted racial disparity in the juvenile justice system is a critical priority and that new funding should be set aside for this effort. Research should focus on the entirety of the juvenile justice system by examining multiple decision-making points and processing stages. This report demonstrates how small biases in one part of the system may have an unforeseen and dramatic outcome at later points in the juvenile justice system process. The links across each of the decision-making points, as well as the decisions themselves, should be scrutinized. Research is needed to examine the role of organizational policy and practice in the production of juvenile arrest, adjudication, and confinement rates and the organizational policy/practice and the decisions of individual officials. Research should especially target police-juvenile encounters, prosecutorial practices, and correctional processes. Challenges to the research community should be issued to develop creative ways to overcome methodological limitations of much existing research. Research on bias should take into account the fact that problems may appear on a local level that do not show up when state-aggregated data provide the only source for information. We need information about private as well as public facilities. Research should also take into account sample selection biases as the screening process operates to filter youth in different directions within the system. Research is needed to examine how juvenile justice system decisions are influenced by the characteristics of the communities in which different youth live. Research should move beyond traditional emphasis on black-white differences to include other minorities and should recognize the diversity within racial and ethnic groups. Page 70 of 114

Research should move beyond the traditional focus on urban jurisdictions to include rural and suburban jurisdictions as well. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has been instrumental in the process of collecting data to establish the existence of racial disproportionality among juveniles involved in the juvenile justice system. There remains a need for ongoing data collection and an expansion of the effort in order to track whether progress is being made in reducing unwarranted racial and ethnic disproportionality at all stages of juvenile justice system processing. Recommendation: Changes are needed in data collection, monitoring, and juvenile justice administration to address racial disproportionality in the juvenile justice system. Suggested changes include: Developing a systematic monitoring procedure to determine the percentage of minority youth being processed through each stage of the juvenile justice system, from initial police contact through confinement release. Developing and implementing training workshops focusing on race and juvenile justice system processing. At a minimum, diversity training for justice system employees and officials must focus on beliefs and attitudes that shape assessments. ______ Study Examines Racial Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System by Brooke Pinnix February 21, 2017 A study completed in November by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health suggests the racial make-up of a neighborhood may have a greater influence on the racial disparities in youth arrests than poverty, unemployment, vacant housing or school quality. Racial disparities in the juvenile and criminal justice system are well documented. In 2013, the National Center for Juvenile Justice for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found that black youth were arrested at twice the rate of white youth. However, this study takes the next step in untangling the reasons for that disparity. In Los Angeles, the Board of Supervisors recently made a move to divert youth from the juvenile justice system. “We know there is a range of ethnic disparities,” said Lauren Gase, chief of health and policy assessment for the division of chronic disease and injury prevention at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “The goal of this study was to take a deeper look at some of the root causes.” Page 71 of 114

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