Racial-Ethnic Fairness


Step into juvenile delinquency courts throughout the country, and you will usually find the number of children of color who appear there are far out of proportion to their numbers in the surrounding community. For decades, they have been over-represented (and treated more harshly for the same behavior as their non-Hispanic white counterparts) at every stage of the delinquency process – from arrest, to secure detention, confinement, and transfer to the adult system. The causes are varied and have often proved resistant to change.[1]

However, in recent years, better data collection and analysis in many localities has helped spur the development of strategies to reduce disparities among youth in contact with the juvenile justice system. This work is paving the way for a more equitable juvenile justice system that will treat youth fairly regardless of their race or ethnicity.

The Racial-Ethnic Fairness section of the Resource Hub will provide you with an overview of salient issues and links to information on each approach, as well as the most recent research, cutting edge reforms, model policies, best practices, links to experts, and toolkits to take action.

NOTE: The fact that youth of color are involved with the juvenile justice system at disproportionate rates has often been referred to as “disproportionate minority contact” (DMC). However, regional and national demographic shifts make it more appropriate to refer to the phenomenon as “racial and ethnic disparities,” without reference to “minorities.”

Racial-Ethnic Fairness Topics



[1] National Conference of State Legislatures, “Disproportionate Minority Contact,” 2, at http://bit.ly/1cUiE3w, in Juvenile Justice Guidebook for Legislators (Denver, CO: Nov. 2011), http://bit.ly/1mpipyK; James Bell and Laura John Ridolfi, “Adoration of the Question: Reflections on the Failure to Reduce Racial & Ethnic Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System,” ed. Shadi Rahimi, vol. 1 (San Francisco, CA: W. Haywood Burns Institute, Dec. 2008): 2-3, http://bit.ly/1egBPTa; Mark Soler, “Missed Opportunity: Waiver, Race, Data, and Policy Reform,” Louisiana Law Review, 71 (2010): 23-24, http://bit.ly/1lLktAG.