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					      Minority Youth Over
 Representation in the Juvenile
Justice System: An Overview of
the Issue and Federal and State
           Responses
                         Michael J. Leiber, Ph.d.
                   Virginia Commonwealth University
                            mjleiber@vcu.edu
  Presented at the Youth Violence Prevention Conference – University
                          of Missouri-St. Louis
                              April 8, 2010
                Background
• In 1989, the disproportionate minority
  confinement mandate (DMC) was passed as part
  of the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and
  Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act of 1974
  (Public Law 93-415, section 223[a][23].
               Background
• States receiving funds from the federal
  government are to develop a comprehensive
  approach to the disproportionate minority youth
  presence in the juvenile justice system
         - Formula Grant Funds
                   Background
• In 2002, the DMC mandate was amended as part of the
  reauthorization of the JJDP Act:
  “address juvenile delinquency prevention efforts and system
  improvement efforts designed to reduce, without
  establishing or requiring numerical standards or quotas,
  the disproportionate number of juvenile members of
  minority groups, who come into contact with the juvenile
  justice system.”

• Changed from confinement to contact
                 DMC - History
The purpose of the DMC Core Requirement
 remains the same: to ensure equal and fair treatment
 for every youth in the juvenile justice system, regardless of
 race and ethnicity.
DMC mandate
             DMC mandate
Interrelated and Ongoing Stages
  Identification – extent of presence
  Assessment – search for causes/
                       contributing factors
  Interventions – reduce DMC
  Evaluation – see if interventions working
  Monitoring – assess over time
              Extent of Presence
• Nation wide
From 2002 to 2004, African Americans were:
   16% of youth.
   28% of juvenile arrests.
   30% of referrals to juvenile court.
   37% of the detained population.
  34% of youth formally processed by the juvenile court.
  30% of adjudicated youth.
  35% of youth judicially waived to criminal court.
  38% of youth in residential placement.
  58% of youth admitted to state adult prison.
           Latest stats - 2005
• See Table 1
       DMC assessment phase
• The purpose of conducting an assessment study
  is to provide policy makers and system
  practitioners with precise information upon
  which interventions can be developed and
  implemented to reduce DMC
• A search for causes, contributing factors to
  DMC
                     DMC
To understand DMC
 – Differential offending
       minorities commit more crime and more
       serious crime
Tracy – some studies that find evidence of bias,
       discover minorities commit more crime
                     DMC
• Arrests suggest race differences in delinquent
  behavior or differential offending; however,

     problems with arrests- police deployment
           patterns, race profiling, biased
           decision-making, data itself
         DMC BACKGROUND
Additionally,
  some self-report survey data indicate few race
  differences in the commission of delinquency
  (e.g., Piquero & Brame, 2008).

Or Huizinga and colleagues (2007) found that the extent
  of self-report differential offending did not solely
  account for differences in police referrals to juvenile
  court
       DMC BACKGROUND
• Second explanation for DMC, selection bias

 This is where the system focus comes into play
       DMC BACKGROUND
Bias has many forms
  Direct = intentional, overt, conscious

  Subtle = unintentional, indirect, unconscious –
           tied to legitimate factors but racially
           tainted, just as harmful, disadvantaged
                                  DMC

Subtle = unintentional, indirect – tied to legitimate and extralegal factors

                    e.g., assessments about family – Pope and Feyerherm
                          secure detention – Leiber and Fox


   Assessment studies need to be conducted with this in mind
  DMC - Other Examples of Subtle
              Bias
• Bridges and Steen’s (1998) analysis of pre-
  disposition reports written by juvenile probation
  officers provides powerful evidence of racial
  stereotypes and their influence on
  recommendations at disposition. In these
  accounts, race was correlated with attributions
  about the causes of crime and to perceptions of
  the risk of re-offending and harsher dispositions.
         DMC BACKGROUND
• That is, probation officers more often attributed
  offending among whites to external and alterable causes
  (e.g., delinquent peers, problems at school), while
  crimes committed by African American youth were
  more often attributed to internal and enduring
  character traits (e.g., aggressiveness, lack of remorse).

• These causal attributions corroborated beliefs that
  minority offenders are more dangerous than whites,
  which in turn provided the basis for more punitive
  recommendations (see also, Steen et al. 2005).
        DMC BACKGROUND
• Graham and Lowery (2004) also found
  attributions about the causes of crime to be
  linked to racial disparities in punishment
  responses among juvenile court probation
  officers and police officers.
             DMC assessment
Studies of Juvenile Justice System
• Pope and Feyerherm (1993)
• Pope and colleagues (2003)
• Bishop (2005)
• Engen and colleagues (2005)
• Pope and Leiber (2005)
Conclude – most studies find evidence of overt and subtle
  bias even after considering influence of legal and
  extralegal factors
       DMC BACKGROUND
• Appears Both Differential Offending and
  Selection Bias play a role in DMC
DMC mandate
        DMC BACKGROUND
• If differential offending as a reason for DMC

    Interventions focus on crime prevention:
          family dysfunction
           drugs
           negative peer influences, associations
           lack of quality education
           lack of access to meaningful employment
       DMC BACKGROUND
If bias accounts for DMC
Example Solutions:
  structure decision making at detention
      and intake (race neutral)
  cultural sensitivity training
  advocates
  diversity in hiring
  education
                    DMC
• Recently, Bishop (2005), Kempf-Leonard (2007)
  and Piquero (2008)

 have argued that there is a need to examine
 factors that may be linked to both differential
 offending and selection bias
     e.g., impoverished communities, heavy
 emphasis on crime control, high crime rates, etc.
                DMC mandate
Evaluations/Monitoring
Overall, there are only a few interventions that have been
  evaluated (e.g., detention diversion advocacy program
  or DDAP, Alternatives for Youth’s Advocacy initiative
  or AFY, detention reform in Multnomah county)

These have shown some success at reducing DMC.
              DMC mandate
• Given that twenty years have passed since the
  passage of the DMC mandate, this is a
  significant limitation since there are relatively
  few known evaluations of strategies created and
  implemented to reduce minority
  overrepresentation.
              DMC mandate
                Success or Failure?
On one side of the continuum,
   Tracy (2005; 2002) views as a failure, wrong
    focus, should be on crime prevention
              DMC mandate
Another view but seen as failure:

Bell and Ridolfi (2008) of the W. Haywood Burns
 Institute critique of the DMC mandate centers
 on the lack of benchmarks and the failure to
 change procedures that result in bias and
 minority youth overrepresentation in the
 juvenile justice system
                DMC mandate
Leiber and Rodriguez are in the middle of these 2 views -
   some problems, some room for improvement
     but also see advances

not a zero sum situation. Bringing about change within
 organizations is often slow, complex and evolutionary.
 It is a process involving forward movement, backward
 movement, and at times, no movement.
DMC mandate

				
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