Disproportionate Representation of Minority Youth in the Juvenile Justice System: A Lack of Clarity and Too Much Disparity Among States ‘Addressing’ the Issue
Elizabeth N. Jones
Western State College of Law
November 20, 2011
16 U.C. Davis Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy 155 (2012)
This article explores how states are struggling to reduce the overrepresentation of youth of color in their juvenile justice systems by complying with the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. The JJDPA provides funding for states following its directive to identify, assess, and reduce the disproportionate contact by minority youth with the juvenile justice system. This article queries whether the JJDPA is an effective instrument with which to seek racial parity for minority youth who are already “in contact” with the juvenile justice system. It first provides a brief history and overview of the JJDPA, highlighting three areas of potential concern. This article then posits that these three focal points hinder, and may actually serve to undermine, the states from completing their mission of reducing, and eventually eliminating, the disproportionate representation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system. Various states are surveyed, and their limited successes in attempting to reduce disproportionate minority contact are noted. Finally, a strategy to catch children “pre-contact” through a continuum of school and community-based programs is discussed. President Obama’s projected 2012 budget proposes incentives for the states to remain in compliance with the JJDPA, though many of them appear to be in danger of falling out of conformity. With the JJDPA ripe for reauthorization, this issue is aptly timed for debate. This article supplies some ideas for consideration.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 45
Keywords: JJDPA, Juvenile, DMC, Disproportionate Minority Contact, Disproportionate Minority Confinement, Truancy, Juvenile Justice System, Overrepresentation, Youth of Color, Juvenile Law
Date posted: November 21, 2011 ; Last revised: May 11, 2012
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