Reform Trends


1.) Improving Data Collection

Accurate measurements of the race and ethnicity of youth at each decision point of the juvenile justice system are essential to determining where there are barriers to equitable treatment of youth in the system, what the extent of the disparity may be, and which racial and ethnic groups are impacted. By rigorous analysis of system policies and practices that are contributing to the inequitable treatment of youth of color, you can determine the factors that contribute to the disproportionality, and decide how to address any disparities. Continuing to collect data over time allows you to analyze changes and determine if disparity reduction strategies are successful.[1]

A. Data Collection Tools

The leading organizations working on reducing racial and ethnic disparities have developed a number of tools to help localities with data collection and analysis:

    • The W. Haywood Burns Institute recommends a three-step process to using data to help jurisdictions reduce racial and ethnic disparities: (1) identify disparities; (2) identify, analyze and strategize around a target population; and (3) measure progress.[3] The Burns Institute collaborated with the Models for Change initiative to develop the Level One Data Template, a data collection template focused on reducing disparities at the pre-adjudication, or “front-end” of the juvenile justice process.[4] The template includes various key indicators of racial and ethnic disparities, all of which are broken down by race and ethnicity. The template is designed to assist local jurisdictions with measuring and monitoring disparities at key youth justice decision-making points.[5]
[tab title="+ Strategies: Administrative"]

A number of states have improved their juvenile justice data collection efforts. Below is a sampling:

    • Connecticut
        • In 2009, the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee recommended that state juvenile justice data systems be improved so that the juvenile justice data needed to study racial and ethnic disparities was consistently entered and tracked.[7]
        • In 2012, Connecticut’s probation department, the Court Support Services Division, developed a system modeled on the DMC Action Network’s data template, in order to collect data on youth at various points in the juvenile justice system on a quarterly basis.[8]
    • Hawaii 
      The Office of Hawaiian Affairs recommended that data be used to regularly evaluate the effects of current policies and practices on racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in the criminal and juvenile justice systems and to determine the impact of subsequent modifications to those policies and practices.[9]
    • Iowa
      In the last decade, Iowa researchers and specialists have tracked data from each decision point in several juvenile justice systems around the state, in an effort to identify and address racial and ethnic disparities. They also developed a resource center to provide intensive technical assistance to locations struggling with racial and ethnic disparities.[10]
    • Louisiana
      Rapides Parish installed a new data system in its detention center and standardized data collection among six local law enforcement agencies. These data improvements helped the county reduce disparities. Data showed that a large number of youth of color were entering the system due to school issues and probation revocations, allowing county officials to target their reforms.[11]
    • North Carolina 
      Union County adopted a number of strategies to reduce racial and ethnic disparities, such as improved data collection. Their reforms contributed to a 67 percent decline in the number of youth admitted to detention for probation violations over a nine month period, with a 50 percent drop in admissions of youth of color for that reason.[12]
    • Pennsylvania
      Lancaster County collected data with the Burns Institute Level One data collection tool and used the information to reduce racial and ethnic disparities through methods such as opening an evening reporting center to reduce the number of youth of color securely detained.[13] Additionally, the state of Pennsylvania made changes to its state juvenile justice data system to disaggregate race and ethnicity in its data collection.[14]
[/tab] [tab title="+ Strategies: Legislative"] Below are examples of legislative strategies for improving data collection:

    • Illinois
      Illinois passed legislation in 2011 establishing a Racial and Ethnic Impact Research Task Force tasked with determining a practical method for the standardized collection and analysis of data on the racial and ethnic identity of arrested individuals.[15]
    • Indiana
      Indiana passed legislation in 2009 creating a Board for the Coordination of Programs Serving Vulnerable Individuals to oversee the implementation of the recommendations made by Indiana’s Commission on Disproportionality in Youth Services. [16] Among other duties, the Board was charged with creating “a central data warehouse to serve as a statewide system for standardized, disaggregated, race-specific data collection.”[17]
    • Minnesota
      Minnesota passed legislation in 2009 requiring that a study group produce a plan to determine how to best collect data on race, ethnicity, gender, geography, and offenses in the juvenile justice system. In 2010, the study group’s report detailed recommended strategies to improve Minnesota’s juvenile justice data collection and analysis.[18]
[/tab] B. Counting Latino Youth

Many jurisdictions are not disaggregating race and ethnicity when collecting their data, resulting in an undercounting of Hispanic youth in the juvenile justice system. The following best practices address this issue:

    • The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) recommends in its DMC Technical Assistance Manual that juvenile justice systems adhere to the data collection requirements set forth for all federal agencies by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This approach requires data collectors to ask about race and ethnicity in two separate questions, with a third optional question for youth to report any other country of origin, ancestry, or tribe with which they identify. Self-identification is the primary method for answering the questions.[19]
[tab title="+ Strategies: Administrative"]
  •  Louisiana
    Rapides Parish improved its data collection by moving to a two-question approach regarding race and ethnicity.[21]
  • North Carolina
    Union County changed its data collection to the two-question approach for race and ethnicity, and added a question at intake about a youth’s language preference. These reforms helped the county to count the number of Hispanic youth in its juvenile justice system more accurately, and they used the data to better target their limited resources. [22]
  • Pennsylvania
    Pennsylvania separated its race and ethnicity data to get a more accurate measurement of disparities.[23]
[/tab] C. Collecting Data on the Intersection of Race and Gender

African American girls are the fastest-growing subgroup of girls that is referred to juvenile courts and the fastest-growing group that is detained.[24] Yet few jurisdictions have examined the intersection between race and gender. Most collect data on all girls and all boys, and break out youth by race and ethnicity. If states were required to collect juvenile justice data by gender and cross-reference it by race and ethnicity categories, they would be able to identify disparities and be better able to address them.[25]

[tab title="+ Strategies: Administrative"]

Washoe County, Nevada collected data on girls in its juvenile justice system in 2006 and learned that 40 percent of the girls being detained were held for technical violations of probation or status offenses, while only 25 percent of the boys were detained for these types of offenses. County administrators used this information to eliminate probation sentences for status offenders and reduce the use of probation for misdemeanors, addressing these cases through voluntary services to the youth and family instead. From 2006 – 2010, Washoe County reduced the use of secure detention for girls by 50 percent.[26]


2.) Enhancing Cultural and Linguistic Competence

It is often difficult for youth of all races and ethnicities to understand the juvenile justice system and communicate well with the adults working in the system due to their immature stage of development and youthful attitudes and perceptions which differ from those of adults. However, cultural and language barriers can make the juvenile justice system even more complex for youth from different ethnic and racial backgrounds. Good communication and cultural understanding are prerequisites to a fair, efficient, and effective justice system and can help to reduce the disproportionality of youth of color in the system.

Cultural Competence

    • In the juvenile justice system, “cultural competence” refers to the ability of juvenile justice system professionals -- such as police, probation and correctional staff, attorneys, judges, and program providers – “to understand and respect values, attitudes, beliefs, and mores that differ across cultures and to respond appropriately to these differences” in interacting with youth and their families, and in planning and implementing programs for them.[27]
    • While more research is needed, current findings indicate that culturally relevant and competent programming leads to increased engagement and service retention.[28]
    • Enhancing cultural competence is done in a number of ways, such as training juvenile justice professionals and developing programs for at-risk youth consistent with their cultural background, and that use staff who are culturally competent. For an example, see Resources.
    • Evidence-based practices need to be effective with the type of youth served. For example, some practices that may generally be effective with white youth may not be as effective for youth of color. One technique being used by practioners is to take an evidence-based practice and make cultural adaptations to it for language, racial and ethnic group, and/or geographic setting.[29] Proponents of cultural adaptations recommend them as a bridge between the evidence-based practice and the need for cultural competence so that the treatment aligns with the youth’s life experiences.[30]

Below are examples of different mechanisms states have used for building cultural competency.

[tab title="+ Strategies: Administrative"]

Police Training

    • Connecticut
      The Connecticut Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee has trained 1,400 police officers since 2007 on youth development and issues related to racial disparities.[31] The “Effective Police Interactions with Youth” training curriculum provides patrol officers with information to better understand youth behavior and with practical strategies for interacting with young people in positive ways.[32] A 2008 evaluation found that this training had a lasting positive impact on participating officers’ knowledge and attitudes about "youth development and issues related to racial disparities.”[33]
    • Hawaii
      The Hawaii County Police Department implemented a law enforcement training program that includes training in cultural competency, crisis intervention, homelessness, and mental illness.[34]
    • Massachusetts
      The non-profit organization “Strategies for Youth” provides a training program for police officers that involves community-based youth-serving organizations and local youth. The program teaches officers about adolescent development, strategies for working with compromised teens, cultural issues affecting adult/youth interactions, and recognizing and addressing implicit bias.[35] In Cambridge and Everett, Massachusetts the juvenile arrest rate decreased by 50 percent following the training.[36]
    • Pennsylvania
      Philadelphia leaders developed a training curriculum for new law enforcement cadets called the Philadelphia Minority Youth Law Enforcement Curriculum. It trains cadets on adolescent development, youth culture, and youth coping strategies, and engages police in a dialogue with youth. The curriculum is being expanded for other police departments to use.[37]

Juvenile Justice Staff Training

    • California
      Santa Cruz hired a consultant to provide multicultural training for the juvenile justice staff that was tailored to working with Latino youth and families. The consultant helped them to alter their treatment approaches and to include families in the treatment process.[38]
    • Illinois
      The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission recommended that cultural competency and adolescent development education/training be mandated for juvenile justice professionals, with an emphasis on its relevance to racial and ethnic disparities, particularly focusing on “OJJDP decision points, specific data collection tools and the appropriate uses of discretion.”[39]
    • Kansas
      Sedgwick County Department of Corrections (which encompasses juvenile justice) made staff diversity a goal throughout the department, and made a 5-phase, forty-hour cultural competency diversity training program mandatory for all employees in order to provide them with the training and tools to actively contribute to a positive and inclusive work environment, and to improve cultural competency with their clients. Language interpreter services were also implemented in all areas of the Department.[40]
    • Oregon
      The Oregon Youth Authority’s (OYA) Juvenile Policy Committee developed and adopted a set of protocols in May of 2000 to assist OYA in becoming a culturally competent agency. To help OYA facilities provide effective, culturally competent treatment services, OYA’s Office of Minority Services provides training, technical assistance, and program development.[41]

Culturally Competent Youth Programs

    • California
      The Mexican American Community Services Agency, a community-based organization in San Jose, California, provides culturally and linguistically competent educational and social services programs throughout Santa Clara County. One example is its gang intervention program, Ollin:
    • “Ollin . . . emphasizes the cultural heritage of its Latino participants. It teaches youth about the values of their ancestors and the meaning of palabra—keeping one’s word and living with integrity—to help youth leave gangs or prevent them from joining one. As part of their gang prevention and intervention efforts, MACSA also educates parents, many of whom are overworked or unfamiliar with gang culture, about gang prevention.”[42]
    • Oregon
      The Oregon Juvenile Crime Prevention Advisory Committee adopted a policy requiring counties to ensure that services be culturally appropriate and gender-specific. The committee commissioned the Office of Minority Services within the Oregon Youth Authority to design training and technical assistance for counties on cultural competency and gender-specific programming.[43]
    • South Dakota
      The Sovereign Tribal Nation of Sicangu Lakota, located in Rosebud, South Dakota, incorporated Lakota cultural practices such as archery, beadwork, and outfit-making, and promoted indigenous practices, such as peacemaking and family group decision making, to repair harm caused by youthful offending and keep cases out of the court system.[44]
    • Washington
      Pierce County developed a culturally competent Functional Family Therapy (FFT) program to better engage African-American youth. While studies have found FFT to be effective in reducing recidivism, few African-American youth in Pierce County were responding to the program until they found a provider who could effectively relate to African-American youth and their families. After development of this specialized caseload, the engagement rates for African-American youth jumped from 45 percent to a 100 percent completion rate for the program.[45]

Linguistic Competence

Linguistic competence refers to communication that conveys information to youth and their families in a way that is easily understood by diverse audiences, such as those with limited English proficiency or low literacy skills.

    • Enhancing linguistic competence is often done through building the language proficiency of juvenile justice system professionals as well as efforts to provide services to assist limited English speaking youth and families, such as translating court documents and court proceedings.
    • Federal law requires state courts to meet federal language access requirements, such as providing free interpreters for court proceedings, but states do not always comply with these requirements.[46]
    • The American Bar Association recently issued standards for language access in courts. Standard 6 states that:
      “Courts should ensure that persons with limited English proficiency have access to court-mandated services, court offered alternative services and programs, and court-appointed professionals, to the same extent as persons who are proficient in English.”[47]

Below are examples of different mechanisms states have used for building linguistic competency.

[tab title="+ Strategies: Administrative"]
  •  California
    In Santa Cruz County, the probation office is aiming to have a Spanish-speaking staff member for every stage of the juvenile justice process and partners with a community-based agency to provide services explaining court processes and expectations to families of Latino youth.[48]
  •  Nevada
    Washoe County worked with the Youth Law Center to improve its data collection methods and now include language proficiency as a component in its data collection system. Additionally, the youth detention center now identifies students with limited English proficiency (LEP), has instituted English language development classes for them, and trained detention center teachers in instructional strategies to meet the language needs of LEP students.[49]
  • Pennsylvania
    Localities in Pennsylvania working with the Models for Change DMC Action Network made efforts to improve linguistic competency in a number of ways. Some jurisdictions worked with community stakeholders to translate court forms and information for members of color in their communities. Some increased the Spanish-language proficiency of their staff.[50]
  • Texas
    Travis County worked with the Youth Law Center to improve its data collection methods; youth now identify their primary language as “American Sign Language, Braille, Chinese/Mandarin/Cantonese, English, French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese, or other.”[51]

[tab title="+ Strategies: Legislative"]

Recipients of federal funding must take reasonable steps to accommodate individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP) under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[52] In 2010, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division issued new guidance to help state courts meet federal language access requirements:[53]

  • courts must provide meaningful language access in all court and court-related proceedings, whether civil, criminal, or administrative;
  • courts must provide interpreters free of cost to [all] parties;
  • courts must make reasonable accommodations for services conducted outside the courtroom ; and
  • courts must ensure that parties with limited English proficiency and witnesses can communicate with court-appointed or supervised personnel.

 3.) Family Engagement

To help prevent formal juvenile justice system involvement as well as to keep youth from going deeper into the juvenile justice system, it is important for justice systems to partner with families in developing culturally and linguistically competent programs to help youth. Unfortunately, many current juvenile justice practices exclude and alienate families.[54] A recent publication by Justice for Families contains a blueprint for achieving a youth justice system that provides for family engagement at each step of the juvenile justice process.

Click here for Strategies for Reform.

4.) Reducing Disparities with Objective Decision-Making Practices and Tools

    • One way to minimize individual or structural biases that contribute to racial and ethnic disparities is to adopt structured decision-making practices and tools to facilitate objective and consistent decision-making instead of subjective determinations.
    • Examples of these types of tools are detention risk assessment instruments, which can be used by probation officers in making detention recommendations; risk/needs assessment instruments, which probation officers and courts use at disposition to determine levels of service youth need and to plan their treatment; and sanctions grids, which can help guide probation officers in determining responses to probation violations. [55]
    • Some of the key principles behind structured decision-making practices and tools are:[56]
    • Objectivity – the tool should facilitate decisions based on neutral and objective factors rather than the screener’s subjective opinion about the youth. For example, two factors that appear on risk assessment instruments for detention include (a) the nature and severity of the youth’s offense, and (b) his or her history of failure to appear for court.
    • Uniformity – any criteria used should be applied equally to all youth. In order to achieve this, the criteria should be in a written format and be a part of a process that is standardized for all referrals.
    • Risk-based – the criteria should measure specific risks posed by the youth. For a pre-trial detention determination, this would include the risks of reoffending prior to trial and of failure to appear in court.

For further information on structured decision-making tools see the Resources section.

Below are examples of states that have used structured decision-making tools to reduce racial and ethnic disparities.

[tab title="+ Strategies: Administrative"]

Detention Assessment Instruments

    • Louisiana
      Rapides Parish developed and implemented a detention screening instrument in 2008 to ensure that law enforcement was making objective determinations regarding whether to detain youth. It was often a challenge to convince officers of the value of completing a standardized screening instrument, but a validation study in 2010 found that using the tool significantly reduced the proportion of African-American youth detained.[57]
    • North Carolina
      The Department of Juvenile Justice piloted a detention assessment instrument in four districts from January through June of 2012. It resulted in a 22 percent overall reduction in admissions from the previous year, which included a 24 percent reduction for African-American youth, and a 16 percent reduction for Latino youth. This meant that 125 fewer youth of color were securely detained over a six-month period in those four counties.[58]
    • Pennsylvania
      Several jurisdictions implemented detention assessment tools for probation officers to use in determining when to detain newly-arrested youth and those who have violated probation. The tools provide risk scores based on objective criteria, such as current charges and previous failures to appear in court, and violations of conditions of release.[59] Subsequently, a statewide committee created a detention risk assessment tool for use across the state, with common scoring and definitions. Eight counties are piloting the common tool.[60]

Objective Assessment Tools

    • Wisconsin
        • Kenosha and Outagamie Counties integrated the Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI) into their case planning process. The screening instrument was adopted to help them make decisions regarding confinement that were race-, culture-, and gender-neutral.[61]
        • Rock County also implemented the YASI to make objective assessments of the appropriate level of supervision for youth under juvenile justice supervision.[62] Through use of the YASI and a program of graduated responses for probation violations, placements of youth in state correctional facilities dropped 88 percent between 2007 and 2009, and detention of youth of color for probation violations also declined.[63]

 Probation Violation Tools

    • Connecticut
      Connecticut’s probation department adopted a system of graduated sanctions and incentives, effective July, 2012. The new system is intended to reduce the number of youth of color being detained for technical probation violations by implementing a wide range of alternative sanctions to use instead of detention, and rewards for youth who go beyond basic compliance with their supervision terms. In the nine months after implementation, the number of African American youth taken into custody for violations fell by 30% in Hartford. [64]
    • Louisiana
        • In Rapides Parish, officials enhanced objective and consistent decision-making by requiring a supervisor and two additional probation officers to review and approve all probation revocation requests. In addition, probation officers now use a service referral matrix to help determine whether youth can remain safely in the community. These policies helped cut probation revocations 61 percent overall from 2010 to 2011; revocations specifically for African-American males dropped 60 percent, while revocations for African-American females were cut in half.[65]
        • Jefferson Parish implemented a graduated sanctions “ladder” to support objective decision-making by probation officers as they respond to probation violations, with the goal of reducing inappropriate use of secure detention.[66]
    • North Carolina
      The Department of Juvenile Justice incorporated graduated sanctions, which take into account the seriousness of a specific probation violation and the risk to public safety. The strategy also rewards youth who build skills that will help them to be more responsible.[67]
    • Oregon
      Multnomah County developed a “sanctions grid” – a structured approach to responding to probation violations which takes into account the seriousness of the violation and the youth’s risk of recidivism. It has significantly reduced the “idiosyncratic” use of detention by individual probation officers in response to violations.[68]
    • Wisconsin
      Rock County adopted a graduated sanctions program for youth on probation; youth cannot be sent to detention without the approval of a sanctions committee. The program also provides incentives to reward positive behavior.[69]

5.) Increasing Diversion and Community-Based Alternatives

Since disproportionate numbers of youth of color are securely detained or are confined after adjudication, expanding pathways out of the juvenile justice system can help to reduce the number youth of color that penetrate further into the juvenile justice system. By developing more diversion programs and community-based alternatives to incarceration,  jurisdictions have been able to reduce the number of youth of color and disparities in their juvenile justice systems.[70] Note, however, that reducing disparities can be more difficult than reducing numbers. In some cases, while the number of all youth confined may decrease, the proportion of youth of color confined may stay the same or increase.

When developing alternative programs, it is particularly important to develop programs that are culturally and linguistically competent for the population being served if they are to be effective in helping youth of color and thereby reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the system.

Below are some examples of jurisdictions that have used diversion and community-based alternatives to try to reduce racial and ethnic disparities.

[tab title="+ Strategies: Administrative"]

Diversion Programs

    • Louisiana
      The Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office developed a neighborhood accountability board program as an alternative to formal processing of youth. The board, composed of neighborhood citizens, hears the facts of minor offenses committed by youth and crafts dispositions, such as restitutioncommunity service, letters of apology, and/or school counseling. Youth must comply with the terms of their disposition within 90 days.[71]

Detention Alternatives

    • Maryland
      Baltimore’s Pre-Adjudication Coordination and Transition (PACT) Center provides support services to youth so that they do not have to be detained pending adjudication. The PACT Center ensures that youth attend scheduled court hearings, avoid re-arrest, and undergo a comprehensive needs assessment and individualized plan that identifies community resources to help prevent future delinquency. A University of Maryland evaluation found that 99 percent of the youth served between July 2007 and March 2010 were African American; of the more than 400 youth served, 98 percent appeared for their scheduled court hearings and 92 percent did not reoffend while participating in the program.[72]
    • Pennsylvania
      Pennsylvania has encouraged jurisdictions to adopt community alternatives, such as evening reporting centers, by reimbursing counties 90 percent of the cost of these programs, compared with 50 percent for the cost of using a secure detention bed.[73] This has increased the use of programs such as the ones below:
      • Berks County developed an evening reporting center in 2008 to serve both pre-adjudicated and adjudicated male youth. It is a short-term program (average of 30 days) that provides youth with a mix of life skills development, educational assistance, group counseling, recreational activities, and meals.[74] The committee overseeing RED reduction efforts in the county worked with the provider to ensure that the staff reflected the race and ethnicity of the youth being served, and that the programming would be culturally responsive and community-focused. Since these changes were put in place, all youth have attended every scheduled court appearance and 96.4 percent did not reoffend while in the program.
      • Additionally, Berks County has reduced its out-of-home placements by expanding the use of evidence-based programs in the community, such as Multisystemic Therapy (MST); and using a bilingual-capable service provider for Latino youth. In 2011, 80.4 percent of the youth who had completed the MST program had not reoffended, and 82 percent were not placed outside the home.
      • These reforms, and implementation of a detention assessment instrument, reduced the county’s use of secure detention sufficiently to allow it to close its detention center in 2012 and reduce its out-of-home placement costs by $2.4 million in 2009, with a further drop in 2010.[75]
      • Lancaster County opened an evening reporting center in 2010 capable of serving ten male youth at a time; its director and staff are bilingual, in order to serve the county’s significant Latino population.[76]

Probation Violation Programs

    • California
      In Ventura County, probation violations were a leading cause of high detention numbers, and the majority of youth detained were Latino. The county engaged organizations based in communities where the majority of youth being detained lived, and developed an evening reporting center. Probation officers refer youth who would otherwise be detained to the center. The center helps connect youth to a variety of services, including tutoring, education, career development, leadership courses and health/life skills.[77]
    • Kansas
      Sedgwick County developed a weekend program for low-risk youth as an alternative to secure detention. Of the 123 youth it served in the first six months after it opened in January 2010, 33 percent were African-American and 25 percent were Latino.[78] The program led to a 6 percent reduction in 2010 in the use of secure detention for sanctions, a 33 percent reduction in 2011, and a 42 percent reduction at the half year point in 2012 compared to 2011.[79]
    • Texas[80]
      Travis County data demonstrated that Latino youth were detained for probation violations more often, and for longer periods of time, than White youth. The probation department developed a “sanction supervision program” providing case management and programming through a community-based provider. The program was designed to help youth and families identify and access services they needed to prevent probation violations.
    • Wisconsin[81]
      In addition to adopting a system of graduated responses for probation, a policy that restricts the use of detention for probation violations without the approval of a sanctions committee, and incentives to reward good behavior, Rock County also developed a broad range of community-based alternative services and programs so that it would rely less on secure detention for youth violating probation. The programs include Aggression Replacement Therapy, substance abuse services, and a weekend and evening reporting center that has an 84 percent completion rate.From 2002-2010, the county implemented six new community-based supervision programs, saw a 35 percent reduction in the youth of color locked up for probation violations, and a 30 percent reduction in the average daily population of African-American youth in secure detention.

6.) Community Collaboration and Engagement

Racial and ethnic fairness is a complex issue that involves all aspects and members of the juvenile justice system, and impacts many members of the community. As such, experts in the field recommend comprehensive approaches that engage both juvenile justice professionals and local community members.

A. Who Should Be at the Table

Local efforts often begin by establishing a steering committee; it is recommended that the following be included:[82]

    • Key stakeholders in the juvenile justice system, such as the chief judge in the juvenile court, chief juvenile probation officer, senior prosecutor in the juvenile court, senior public defender, and police captain or lieutenant in charge of juvenile cases. It is important to include senior officials across juvenile justice agencies to help ensure that committee decisions are implemented and to promote the needed system cultural changes (such as staff attitudes, perceptions, and actions) that will help sustain reforms.
    • Community leaders, such as directors of community groups, civil rights organizations, child advocates, parent advocates, and others in the community who are concerned with racial and ethnic fairness.
    • Young people and family members of young people who are or have been in the system, to anchor the work to the population most affected.
    • Clergy and other members of faith groups.
    • Community service providers from the impacted communities -- such as providers of mentoring, counseling, and substance abuse treatment -- to help build a network of community resources that can serve youth and family needs in a culturally competent manner.
    • Representatives from schools, child welfare, and mental health systems.
    • Mentoring groups.

B. Challenges

While gathering the key stakeholders, community and family members together is a vital task, the real challenge can lie in building trusting relationships and authentically engaging with families, youth, and community members. Go here for further information on how to do this.

See below for examples of states that engaged in collaborative efforts to address racial and ethnic fairness.

[tab title="+ Strategies: Administrative"]
  • Hawaii
    The Office of Hawaiian Affairs recommended that Hawaii establish a committee to work on reducing the disproportionate contact of Native Hawaiians with the justice system. It further recommended that this committee or “governing collaborative” include traditional stakeholders such as judges, prosecutors, defenders, law enforcement officers, and probation officers, as well representatives of local organizations, community members, schools, family members, and youth.[83]
  • Illinois
      • The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, which is the Illinois state advisory group on juvenile justice, requested a comprehensive analysis of disproportionate minority contact (DMC) in the Illinois juvenile justice system. The Center for Prevention Research and Development (CPRD) at the University of Illinois performed the qualitative analysis and recommended that the Commission “advocate at state and local levels for the involvement of community members, organizations, and coalitions in local DMC prevention efforts.”[84]
      • The Cook County DMC Workgroup includes many non-system stakeholders, including community-based service providers, grassroots leaders, and community residents.[85]
  • Kansas
    Sedgwick County has an active stakeholder group of sixteen juvenile justice professionals and community representatives known as “Team Justice” that advocates for local juvenile justice services and needs. The group analyzes data on racial and ethnic disproportionalities at each meeting, and has met for the past ten years. The group helped to spearhead school interventions to lessen zero tolerance policies that greatly reduced school-based arrests.[86]
  • Pennsylvania
      • The DMC subcommittee of Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee initially included judges, prosecutors, defenders, and probation staff. Individual counties then added youth and families formerly involved in the system, clergy, police, schools, members of community organizations, mental health service providers, and mentoring groups to work alongside other stakeholders on local reforms. The new partners helped the youth-serving agencies to create more culturally competent services, attract new service providers to work with juvenile justice-involved youth, coordinate more closely with other agencies serving children, and work collaboratively on long-standing challenges.[87]
      • Community members in Lancaster County developed the DMC Interfaith Community Network to organize people of faith to help young people and decrease racial and ethnic disproportionality in the juvenile courts. They recently developed an interfaith program that will match youth who have committed first time, low-level offenses with mentors connected with several churches in Lancaster County.[88]
  • Washington
    Benton-Franklin Counties’ DMC coordinator and colleagues have engaged the community in identifying causes of racial disparities and developing solutions. They helped to facilitate a sixteen-member Latino community leaders’ group, which includes the head of the Latino chamber of commerce and the local community college’s director of diversity and outreach. They have also helped to facilitate numerous meetings of African-American community leaders.[89]
  • Wisconsin
    Kenosha and Outagamie Counties both formed stakeholder groups to work on racial and ethnic fairness in juvenile justice. In Kenosha, the stakeholder group includes the school district, the public defender, and the chief judge. In Outagamie, the stakeholder group has also formed strong relationships with tribal officials, law enforcement, and the county’s deputy district attorney.[90]

7.) Racial Impact Statements for Juvenile Justice Legislation

Some states are using “racial impact statements” as a tool to help ensure that their policies and practices do not exacerbate racial and ethnic disparities. Similar to fiscal or environmental impact statements, which many legislative bodies already prepare, racial impact statements provide, prior to legislators’ deliberation of proposed legislation, a statistical analysis of the potential impact the legislation could have on racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system.[91]

There are a variety of agencies in most states that have the expertise necessary to prepare racial impact statements, including the following:

    • Sentencing commissions – the federal government, twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have sentencing commissions.[92] These commissions generally develop, implement, and administer criminal sentencing guidelines, or are responsible for oversight of the guidelines used in the state courts. Some also conduct criminal justice research and do fiscal analyses on criminal justice bills, and others analyze the criminal code and propose reforms.[93]
    • Budget and fiscal agencies – most legislatures have a budget or fiscal agency staffed with analysts who routinely produce fiscal and other analyses of legislative initiatives.[94]
    • Departments of corrections and/or juvenile justice – many correctional and juvenile justice agencies have analytical tools they use to provide detailed forecasts of future prison populations, and may also have databases with racial and ethnic information that could be used to produce racial impact statements.[95]

Below are examples of states that have begun using or are considering using racial impact statements.

[tab title="+ Strategies: Administrative"]
  • Minnesota
    Though not required by law, in 2006 Minnesota became the first state to begin providing the legislature with racial impact notes. The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission prepares the notes on proposed crime bills when it anticipates there will be a disparate impact.[96]
[/tab] [tab title="+ Strategies: Legislative"]

Three states require racial impact statements by law: Connecticut, Iowa, and Oregon. Lawmakers in additional states -- including Arkansas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Texas -- have also introduced racial impact bills.[97]

    • Connecticut
      Connecticut passed legislation in 2008 requiring that racial and ethnic impact statements be prepared for bills and amendments that had the potential to increase or decrease the pretrial or sentenced population in the state.[98]
    • Iowa
      In 2008, Iowa passed the first legislation in the country requiring racial impact statements. At the time, Iowa’s black-to-white incarceration ratio of 13.6 to 1 was the highest in the country.[99] Iowa’s legislation provides that any bill that creates a new criminal offense or modifies existing offenses, sentencing, parole, or probation procedures, must contain information on “the impact of legislation on minorities” in the correctional impact statement attached to the bill prior to floor debate.[100]
    • Oregon
        • In July of 2013, Oregon passed SB 463, a racial impact statement bill. It provides that:
            • If asked by any two legislators from different parties, the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission must prepare an “impartial, simple, and understandable” statement on the expected impact of the proposed legislation or ballot measure on racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal or juvenile justice system.[101]
            • Additionally, state agencies awarding grants must require that each grant applicant include a racial impact statement in its application that discloses “any disproportionate or unique impact of proposed policies or programs on minority persons in this state.”[102]

8.) Reauthorization and Strengthening of the Federal Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA)

Disproportionate minority contact (DMC)” is a core component of the JJDPA. This means that states must address racial and ethnic disparities at each stage of their juvenile justice systems through collecting data to identify the extent of these disparities; assessing the contributing causes; developing and implementing intervention strategies; and then evaluating and monitoring the effectiveness of their chosen strategy.[103] Unfortunately, few jurisdictions have been able to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in their systems. Below are recommendations for reforms to the JJDPA to help jurisdictions to reduce disparities.

A. Funding the JJDPA

Federal appropriations for juvenile justice programs have significantly declined in the last two decades. Funding for implementation of the JJDPA and other state and local reforms, specifically, declined by 83 percent between 1999 and 2010.[104] The appropriations caps in the sequestration provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011 widened the scope of these cuts.[105] When surveyed in 2009, nearly 70 percent of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice’s member states reported that cuts to the JJDPA program posed challenges to their ability to comply with the core components of the JJDPA, including the component focused on racial and ethnic disparities.[106]

Advocates recommend increasing federal funding to enable states to fund programs to improve outcomes for youth of color, and reduce racial and ethnic disparities.[107]

B. Strengthening the JJDPA’s Requirements on Racial and Ethnic Disparities

Advocates recommend that states be required to take concrete steps to reduce racial and ethnic disparities. The federal Committee on Assessing Juvenile Justice Reform, in its publication, Reforming Juvenile Justice, stated that it concurred with juvenile justice advocacy groups that the DMC core requirement in OJJDP’s authorizing legislation needs to be strengthened.[108] Recommendations for reform include the following from the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition:[109]

    • establish coordinating bodies to oversee efforts to reduce disparities;
    • identify key decision points in the system and the criteria by which decisions are made;
    • create systems to collect local data at every point of contact youth have with the juvenile justice system (disaggregated by descriptors such as race, ethnicity, and offense) to identify where disparities exist and the causes of those disparities;
    • develop and implement plans to address disparities that include measurable objectives for change;
    • publicly report findings;  and
    • evaluate progress toward reducing disparities.

Additional recommendations include:[110]

    • Require that states disaggregate race and ethnicity and collect data on the ethnicity of youth. This is particularly important due to the current undercounting of Hispanic youth because of the lack of this requirement.
    • Require states to collect data on the language ability and English proficiency of youth and their families, to make visible the scope of cultural and linguistic needs of youth in the juvenile justice system.
    • Require states to develop plans to provide community-based alternatives to confinement that are culturally and linguistically competent so they can best address the needs of youth of color.
    • Include incentives for research on and development of evidence-based practices for programs serving youth of color.

9.) Blocking the “School-to-Prison” Pipeline

In the past three decades, schools have become a major source of referrals to the juvenile justice system. This phenomenon has come to be called the “school-to-prison pipeline,” or the “schoolhouse-to-jailhouse track.” Minor school disciplinary problems that used to be handled by school administrators are now frequently referred to law enforcement.[111]

See the Community-Based Alternatives section of the Juvenile Justice Resource Hub section for more information on strategies for stopping the school-to-prison pipeline.

A. Zero Tolerance Policies

“Zero tolerance” policies create mandatory punishments of suspension or expulsion from school for certain offenses, without exception and without regard to the seriousness of the particular action.[112] In the past two decades, zero tolerance policies have proliferated in schools across the country, causing the use of suspension and expulsion to increase almost everywhere.[113] There is a strong link between out-of-school suspension and subsequent juvenile justice system involvement.[114]

See the Community-Based Alternatives section of the Juvenile Justice Resource Hub section for more information on strategies for reversing zero tolerance policies.

 B. Disproportionate Impact of the School-to-Prison Pipeline

    • The school-to-prison pipeline does not impact all children equally; youth of color flow through the pipeline at much higher rates than white youth. During the 2009-1010 school year (the most recent year for which data is available), the U.S. Department of Education reported that over 70 percent of students involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement were Hispanic or African American.[115]
    • Youth of color also face disproportionately harsher punishments for school disciplinary issues, resulting in much higher rates of suspensions and expulsions than white youth experience. Although African-American students represent 15 percent of students in the Civil Rights Data Collection maintained by the U.S. Department of Education, they make up 35 percent of students suspended once, 44 percent of those suspended more than once, and 36 percent of students expelled.[116]
    • This problem has become so extreme that the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education released a guidance package in 2014 to assist public schools in administering student discipline consistent with federal law – i.e., without discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin.[117]
    • The guidance letter to public schools specifically states that “research suggests that the substantial racial disparities of the kind reflected in the CRDC [federal civil rights] data are not explained by more frequent or more serious misbehavior by students of color;” rather, these disparities may be the result of racial discrimination that violates federal civil rights laws. [118]
    • Due to the greatly disproportionate impact of school-based arrests on youth of color, several jurisdictions have focused on reducing these arrests to improve racial and ethnic fairness in the juvenile justice system. See below for information on these reforms.
[tab title="+ Strategies: Administrative"]

From Clayton County, Georgia to Denver, Colorado, localities have begun to clarify the role of the police in school discipline, in order to block the school-to-prison pipeline.[119] See below for information on these and other reforms being initiated in the states.

    • Colorado
      The Denver Public Schools and the Denver Police Department signed an intergovernmental agreement in 2013 that limits the role of police in schools, mandates community stakeholder involvement, requires comprehensive training, and highlights student due process rights.[120]
    • Connecticut
        • Nine Connecticut school districts have signed memoranda of understanding with local police that limit when police can make arrests on school property. By the spring of 2012, arrests and expulsions in the school district for the town of Manchester had fallen by more than 60 percent from the year before.[121] In Hartford, school-based arrests were down 78 percent between March and June of 2012, when compared to the previous year, and in Bridgeport they were down almost 40 percent during this time period.[122]
        • In 2011, juvenile courts began rejecting cases of youth arrested and referred to court for minor misbehavior; more than half of the first 211 cases rejected involved school arrests.[123]
    • Florida[124]— In 2011, more than 1,000 students were arrested in Broward County schools – the sixth-largest school district in the country. This ranked it number one for school-based arrests in Florida. The school district entered into a Collaborative Agreement on School Discipline with local law enforcement, the juvenile justice department, and civil rights groups like the N.A.A.C.P. to overhaul its disciplinary policies. The agreement made the following changes to reduce arrests:
      • Students caught for the first time committing any of 11 non-violent misdemeanors are not arrested and sent to court. Instead, they are handled through alternatives such as counseling and community service.
      • Students are no longer suspended for minor infractions. Instead, they attend a program called Promise for three days or more, which includes a counseling component that involves the students’ parents. They are also given more chances to change their behavior.
      • Since initiating the changes, school-based arrests in 2012 were down by 41 percent, and suspensions were down by 66 percent, compared to the same period in 2011.
    • Illinois
      Peoria County officials, working with the W. Hawyood Burns Institute and Models for Change, determined that a significant number of African-American boys were being detained in the juvenile justice system for incidents arising from school fights or due to arrests resulting from zero tolerance policies at schools. The group piloted the Peoria County Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Project to address school fights internally, at the school, instead of through law enforcement. When fully implemented, the new school-based policy resulted in a 35 percent reduction in school referrals to detention.[125]
    • Kansas
      Sedgwick County developed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for schools and police to handle disruptive behavior without automatically arresting youth.[126] The county also hired a juvenile justice liaison to assist with individual school cases and help develop MOUs with more county schools to address school referrals to juvenile court. The county was able to reduce school-based arrests for disorderly conduct by 37 percent and reduce arrests at Wichita public schools by 50 percent during the period from 2009 to 2010.[127]
    • Louisiana
        • In Jefferson Parish, 84 percent of youth arrested at school in 2006 were youth of color. To combat the problem, parish officials engaged in training for school staff and law enforcement.
            • To teach school staff how to intervene more effectively with students posing disciplinary problems and reduce referrals to law enforcement, the Jefferson Parish Public School System’s Director of School Safety and Discipline, with funding support from the Models for Change initiative, held a special training in 2008 on Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools, a component of School-Wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support. Jefferson Parish Public Schools was able to reduce school-based arrests in 2009-2010 by approximately 16 percent from the year before.[128]
            • In the summer of 2010, the Models for Change initiative provided funding for all of Jefferson Parish’s school police to participate in Crisis Intervention Team training, an approach that helps law enforcement develop intervention, counseling, and de-escalation skills in responding to emergencies.[129]
        • Under a protocol developed by Rapides Parish, school officials cannot refer a youth to court unless they have documented their efforts to address the behavior on an “exhaustion form,” met with caregivers regarding their concerns, and referred youth to a behavioral strategist or school counselor. Since adopting these reforms, there has been a 24 percent drop in school cases filed in court due to a youth’s disruptive behavior. Officials are still working to make these reductions uniform across race and gender.[130]
    • Maryland[131]
      Maryland education officials approved new regulations in January of 2014 ending zero tolerance policies and requiring local school boards to adopt discipline policies that allow for discretion and adopt a rehabilitative approach to discipline, with suspensions and expulsions used only as a last resort. By fall of 2014 they must inform the state board how they have changed their policies to reduce long-term suspensions and to reduce the disproportionate suspensions of students of color.
    • Missouri
      In Cole County, African-American youth were referred to court almost ten times more often than white youth in 2009. In 2011, the County revised its school referral policy eliminating school referrals of minor offenses to juvenile court. This revision cut the rate of referrals of African-American youth to court almost in half.[132]
    • Oregon
      In June 2009, Portland Public Schools– Oregon’s largest urban school district – committed to pilot projects in ten schools to reduce racial disparities in school discipline and reduce the use of suspension and expulsion. The district also established a new policy that explicitly stated its commitment to eliminating disparities in discipline practices.[133]
[/tab] [tab title="+ Strategies: Legislation"]
  • Colorado
    Colorado passed legislation (HB 12-1345) in 2012 to reduce school-based arrests and out-of-school suspensions and expulsions. Among other features, the law:[134]
      • recognizes that “the use of inflexible ‘zero tolerance’ policies as a means of addressing disciplinary policies in schools has resulted in unnecessary expulsions, out-of-school suspensions, and referrals to law enforcement agencies;”
      • discourages reliance on the justice system for minor misbehavior and requires every school district to implement “proportionate” discipline that reduces arrests and out-of-school suspensions and expulsions;
      • requires school districts to implement prevention strategies such as restorative justice, peer mediation, and counseling;
      • improves collection of data on school-based arrests, tickets, and court referrals; and
      • enhances training of school police.
  • Connecticut
    After Connecticut schools issued 77,000 out-of-school suspensions to youth in the 2005-06 school year, the legislature passed a law in 2007 (which went into effect in 2010) that severely limited schools’ ability to suspend youth. [135] Many schools used the delayed implementation period in the law to begin exploring disciplinary alternatives to out-of-school suspensions so that the number of out-of-school suspensions declined 30 percent even before the law went into effect in 2010.[136]
    By the 2011-12 school year, the total number of in-school and out-of-school suspensions and expulsions had decreased approximately 14 percent and out-of-school suspensions were down 39 percent.[137]
    Despite this progress, 2011-12 school data still showed disciplinary overrepresentation of African American and Hispanic students: African-American students were suspended/expelled at 3.8 times that of White students and Hispanic students were suspended/expelled at 2.8 times that of White students.[138]
[/tab] [tab title="+ Strategies: Litigation"]
  • California[139]
    The United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) investigated whether African-American students were being disciplined more frequently and harshly than white students in the Oakland Unified School District. In 2009-10, African-American male students were five times more likely to be suspended than White students, and this disparity in suspension rates had remained constant for several years. The issue was resolved through an agreement with the school district prior to OCR making findings of fact.[140] The agreement required that the school district take a number of actions, including:
      • continue to consult with experts to prevent discrimination against African-American students with respect to the use of school discipline;
      • address misbehavior without removal from school;
      • provide at-risk students with support services to decrease behavioral problems;
      • review and revise disciplinary policies and train staff on the policies;
      • develop and implement programs to teach students and parents about the new policies and behavioral expectations, and their right to raise concerns and file complaints concerning discipline; and
      • improve its discipline data collection system.
  • Delaware[141]
    The United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights initiated an investigation of the Christina School District in 2010 and established that African-American students were disciplined more harshly and frequently because of their race than similarly situated white students. They reached a resolution agreement with the school district requiring it to take a number of actions to ensure that students receive equitable treatment, including:
      • address misbehavior without removal from school to the maximum extent possible;
      • provide students engaging in disruptive behavior with support services to reduce behavior difficulties;
      • collaborate with experts on research-based policies to develop policies and practices that promote equity in school discipline; and
      • improve disciplinary data collection.
  • Florida[142]
    The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division began investigating the School District of Palm Beach County in 2011 for complaints regarding its practices of administering school discipline. The department entered into a settlement agreement with the school district to prevent discrimination in school discipline practices, reduce exclusionary discipline and referrals to law enforcement, and promote positive school discipline practices and strategies.
  • Kentucky[143]
    The Fayette County Public School System and the Kentucky Department of Education were both sued for disciplining students in a disparate manner based on their race and disability. Fayette County entered into a settlement agreement [MG53] with the Equity Council and the Children’s Law Center in December of 2010; and eight school districts entered into settlement agreements in 2011 that included a number of provisions designed to end disparities in the district and reduce referrals from the schools to the court. These provisions included revising the districts’ codes of conduct, creating compliance committees comprised of community members and school personnel, and cultural and racial bias training.
  • Mississippi[144]
      • In the case of Barnhardt and U.S. v. Meridian Municipal School District, a federal court entered a desegregation order in 1969 permanently enjoining the District from discriminating on the basis of race or color in the operation of the Meridian schools.
      • In 2010, as part of efforts to enforce the desegregation order, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division began investigating complaints that the district’s discipline policy was racially biased, resulting in the disproportionate suspension, expulsion, and school-based arrest of African American students.
      • On May 30, 2013, the Court adopted a consent order requiring that the school district take steps to create safe and inclusive learning environments in all Meridian schools, including:
          • providing students with supports and interventions before excluding them from school;
          • limiting the use of discipline measures that remove students from the classroom;
          • ensuring that discipline consequences are fair and consistent;
          • establishing clear guidelines for when law enforcement intervention is appropriate;
          • providing training to give teachers and administrators the tools necessary to manage their schools in a safe, effective and positive manner; and
          • building data-driven monitoring and accountability systems.

10.) Reducing Transfer of Youth to Adult Court

In the 1990s, nearly every state responded to the spike in youth crime by passing legislation that made it easier to transfer or waive youth to adult court and try them as adults. An estimated 250,000 youth are now tried, sentenced, or incarcerated as adults each year.[145]

While this is an issue of concern for all youth, numerous reports have shown that youth of color are over-represented in the populations transferred from juvenile to adult court.[146] According to recent data from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) the overwhelming majority of youth in the adult system that are convicted in adult criminal court — 83 percent — are youth of color.[147]

Click here for more statistics on transfer of youth of color to adult court.

Over the past eight years, 23 states have enacted 40 pieces of legislation to reduce the number of youth tried in adult courts and confined in adult jails and prisons.[148] Below is a snapshot of some of the legislative highlights of these reform efforts:

[tab title="+ Strategies: Legislation"]

A. Removing Youth from Adult Jails and Prisons

Youth being tried as adults can be held in adult jails and prisons in most states while awaiting trial and after sentencing.[149] On any given night, an estimated 10,000 youth in this country are locked up in adult jails or prisons.[150] Youth face very dangerous situations in adult facilities, including great risk of sexual victimization and suicide.[151] Since 2005, however, ten states have all enacted laws to either permit or require that youth in the adult system be placed in juvenile facilities rather than adult facilities: Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. [152]

B. Juvenile Court Jurisdiction

In most states, youth who are under the age of eighteen and get in trouble with the law are processed by the juvenile justice system because they come under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. However, a small number of states place youth as young as 16 or 17 under the jurisdiction of adult court, no matter how minor the charge.[153] Since 2005, four additional states have raised the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18 (meaning that youth under 18 are no longer automatically tried in adult court) -- Connecticut, Illinois, Mississippi, Massachusetts.[154] New Hampshire is currently considering a bill to raise the age.[155]

C. Reducing the Prosecution of Youth in Adult Courts

Most states now have multiple ways to transfer youth to adult court. The most traditional way historically has been for a judge to make a determination that a youth is “unfit” for rehabilitation after consideration of a variety of factors. The changes states made to their transfer laws in the 1990s, however, often limited or removed judicial review and made it easier to transfer youth through other processes, such as: [156]

    • automatic transfer or statutory exclusion – which provides that youth charged with certain offenses are automatically tried in adult court;
    • “direct file,” or prosecutorial discretion statutes, which allow prosecutors to decide whether to try youth in adult court, generally without a court hearing and without standards to guide their determinations; and
    • “once an adult, always an adult” laws, which provide that youth previously transferred to adult court must be tried as an adult for any future offenses.

Since 2005, twelve states have made changes to these transfer laws – or set up commissions to consider changes – to limit the transfer of youth to adult court through the following types of legislation:[157]

    • Arizona, Colorado, Ohio, and Utah passed legislation either enabling or making it easier for youth tried as adults to get a “reverse waiver hearing” – a hearing where a judge is empowered to decide whether a youth transferred to adult court should be returned to juvenile court.
    • Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada raised the minimum age at which youth can be tried as adults.
    • Indiana, Virginia, and Washington placed limits on their “once an adult, always an adult” laws.
    • Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, and Nevada passed legislation narrowing the circumstances under which youth could be automatically transferred to adult court or tried in adult court at the discretion of prosecutors.
    • Colorado narrowed the age and offense requirements needed for prosecutors to try youth in adult court.
    • Maryland and Nevada passed legislation creating task forces to consider reforms to their transfer statutes, particularly the issue of automatic transfers.
    • The Missouri Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, together with the Missouri Department of Public Safety, performed a comprehensive analysis of racial and ethnic disparities in the transfer or “certification” of youth to adult court in Missouri. They found that African-American youth were disproportionately certified to adult court compared to White youth, and made numerous recommendations for legislative changes to help address the problem.

D. Sentencing Reform

In the wake of several U.S. Supreme Court cases that have severely restricted extreme sentences for youth tried as adults,[158] several states have reformed their sentencing statutes. Eight states – California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Texas, Missouri, Ohio, and Washington – have enacted sentencing reforms for youth sentenced as adults, such as changing mandatory minimum sentencing laws to require judges to take into account the developmental differences between youth and adults, and enacting laws allowing for post-sentence review hearings for youth sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.[159]


11.) Addressing the Intersection of Gender and Racial Disparities

African-American girls are the fastest-growing subgroup of girls referred to juvenile courts and the fastest-growing group that is detained.[160] While gender bias and racial bias have been known to exist in the juvenile justice system for many years, more recently researchers have noted the increased disparity for youth who are both African-American and female.[161] Below are some recommendations for addressing this issue.

A. Acknowledge that Disparities Exist Where Gender and Race Intersect

The first step to addressing the intersection of gender and racial disparities is to understand and acknowledge that it exists. This can be done through educating stakeholders in the system, such as police officers, judges, probation officers, and all other major decision-makers who interact with girls in the juvenile justice system.[162]

B. Collect Data

Few jurisdictions collect the necessary data to understand this issue. See above for information on improving data collection to better understand the intersection of gender and racial disparities.

C. Use Data to Drive Decisions

Adopt structured decision-making practices and tools, such as risk assessment tools, to facilitate objective and consistent decision-making, instead of subjective determinations vulnerable to bias. Note, however, that a risk/needs assessment that includes specific concerns regarding girls, such as sexual victimization, could end up resulting in more girls being enmeshed in the juvenile justice system.[163]

[tab title="+ Strategies: Administrative"]

New York developed a Probation Assessment Tool (PAT) in 2003 for probation officers to use in recommending delinquency dispositions to the court. [164]

    • The PAT assessed the youth’s risk of reoffending by assigning an “asset score” based on factors associated with future offending.
    • Girls were awarded extra points based on their gender due to their generally lower likelihood of reoffending compared to boys with similar offenses.
    • While this approach was criticized by one New York family court judge as discriminating against boys, studies of the New York youth in their first eighteen months living in the community after disposition found that 56 percent of the boys were rearrested, compared to only 22 percent of the girls.

D. Divert Youth Who Commit Status Offenses

Status offenses such as running away, curfew violations, and “incorrigibility” are still the largest driver of female youth into the juvenile justice system.[165] Strategies to divert youth out of the juvenile justice system for status offenses by using community-based responses can be a very effective way to reduce the number of girls in the juvenile justice system. Click here for more information on diversion for status offenses.




[1]Eleanor Hinton Hoytt, Vincent Schiraldi, Brenda V. Smith, and Jason Zeidenberg, “Reducing Racial Disparities in Juvenile Detention,” in Pathways to Juvenile Detention Reform, Vol. 8 (Baltimore, MD: Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2001), 14,; Heidi Hsia , “Introduction,” in DMC Technical Assistance Manual, 4th ed., (Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, July 2009), Intro-2, at

[2] Mark Soler, “Missed Opportunity: Waiver, Race, Data, and Policy Reform,” Louisiana Law Review, 71 (2010): 26,; Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, “JDAI Help Desk,” accessed January 3, 2014,

[3] If the template is completed accurately and fully, the following questions (and more) can be answered to understand whether and to what extent racial and ethnic disparities exist:

    • Are youth of color more likely to be arrested?
    • Are youth of color more likely to be physically referred to secure detention?
    • Which departments or agencies referred youth to secure detention?
    • Are youth of color more likely to be admitted to detention?
    • How did youths’ RAI score inform the detention decision?
    • For what offenses or technical/administrative violations were youth admitted to secure detention?
    • Where do youth who were admitted to secure detention reside?
    • What was the average daily population in the juvenile detention facility?
    • How long did youth remain in secure detention?
    • Are there differences in length of stay when controlling for offense?

Laura John Ridolfi, Law and Policy Analyst, W. Haywood Burns Institute, email communication, Feb. 12, 2014.

[4] James Bell, Laura John Ridolfi, Lori Brown, “Collecting and Analyzing Data on Racial and Ethnic Disparities: The Peoria Pilot Project” (Chicago, IL: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Models for Change, April 1, 2009), 3,

[5] Laura John Ridolfi, Law and Policy Analyst, W. Haywood Burns Institute, email communications, Feb. 12, 2014.

[6] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #17, Oct. 2010,

[7] Dorinda M. Richetelli, Eliot C. Hartstone, Kerri L. Murphy, “A Second Reassessment of Disproportionate Minority Contact in Connecticut’s Juvenile Justice System,” Spectrum Associates Market Research, May 15, 2009, viii,

[8] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #32, Oct/Nov. 2012,

[9] Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Justice Policy Institute, University of Hawai‘i and Georgetown University, “The Disparate Treatment of Native Hawaiians in the Criminal Justice System,” 2010,

[10] Ashley Nellis and Brad Richardson, “Getting Beyond Failure: Promising Approaches for Reducing DMC,” Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice (April 22, 2010), 6,

[11] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #28, Jan/Feb 2012,

[12] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #31, July/August 2012,

[13] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #17, October 2010,

[14] Dana Shoenberg, “Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Pennsylvania” (Chicago, IL: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Models for Change Initiative Innovation Brief, Dec. 2012), 2,

[15]Annie Balck, Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform: 2009 – 2011(Washington, DC: National Juvenile Justice Network, July 2012), 20,, citing S.B. 271/Public Act 97-433, signed into law and effective August 16, 2011.

[16] Balck, Advances, 17.

[17] H.B. 1289/Public Law 173, signed into law May 13, 2009; effective July 1, 2009.

[18] Balck, Advances, 18-19, citing H.F. 702/Ch. 132, signed into law May 21, 2009; effective July 1, 2009.

[19] Maria F. Ramiu and Dana Shoenberg, “Strategies for Serving Hispanic Youth,” in DMC Technical Assistance Manual, 4th ed., (Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, July 2009), 7-20,

[20] Ramiu and Shoenberg, 7-1.

[21] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #20, Jan. 2011,

[22] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #8, Jan. 2010,

[23] Dana Shoenberg, “Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Pennsylvania” (Chicago, IL: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Models for Change Initiative Innovation Brief, Dec. 2012), 2,

[24] Francine T. Sherman, “Justice for Girls: Are We Making Progress?,” UCLA Law Review 59 (2012):1584, 1617,;.

[25] Francine T. Sherman, “Justice for Girls,” 1620.

[26] Francine T. Sherman, “Justice for Girls,” 1620.

[27] Curricula Enhancement Module Series, “Definitions of Cultural Competence,” National Center for Cultural Competence, Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, accessed January 6, 2014 at

[28]Janeen Buck Willison, et. al., “Reforming Juvenile Justice Systems: Beyond Treatment” (Portland Oregon: Portland Oregon: Reclaiming Futures National Program Office, Portland State University, 2010), 14-15,

[29] James Bell, “Non-Judicial Drivers Into the Juvenile Justice System for Youth of Color” (W. Haywood Burns Institute, undated), 9,

[30] Note that some practitioners oppose making adaptations because they believe that the evidence based practice will not be successful without complete fidelity to the program. See Bell, 9.

[31] Richard A. Mendel, “Juvenile Justice Reform in Connecticut: How Collaboration and Commitment Have Improved Public Safety and Outcomes for Youth” (Washington, D.C.: Justice Policy Institute, February 27, 2013), 26,

[32] “Effective Police Interactions with Youth Training Curriculum,” Just.Start, Connecticut Office of Policy and Management, Criminal Justice Policy & Planning Division, accessed Jan. 6, 2014 at

[33]Mendel, 26.

[34] Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Justice Policy Institute, University of Hawai‘i and Georgetown University, The Disparate Treatment of Native Hawaiians in the Criminal Justice System (Honolulu: Office of Hawaiian Affairs, 2010), 78,

[35] Strategies for Youth, “Training Principles of Policing the Teen Brain,” accessed January 30, 2014,
[36] Lisa H. Thurau, “Training Law Enforcement on How to Police the Teen Brain: Improving Police-Youth Interactions,” Translational Criminology (Spring 2013), 22,

[37] Shoenberg, “Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Pennsylvania,” 3.

[38] Willison et. al., 14.

[39] Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, Disproportionate Minority Contact in the Illinois Juvenile Justice System 2010 (2010), 8-9,

[40] “Sedgwick County, Kansas DMC Action Network Initiative 2008-2011: A Project of Models for Change Systems Reform in Juvenile Justice,” presentation,, accessed Feb. 19, 2014; “Sedgwick County DMC Initiative Impacts 2008-11,”, accessed Feb. 19, 2014.

[41] Gies, Cohen, and Villarruel, “Intervention,” in DMC Technical Assistance Manual, 4-16, 4-18, .

[42] Moeller, “Reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act: The Impact on Latino Youth,” National Council of La Raza (February 2011), 7,

[43] Gies, Cohen, and Villarruel, 4-16 and 4-17,

[44] Reclaiming Futures, “South Dakota: Reclaiming Futures Oyate Teca Owicakiya,” accessed January 12, 2014,; Willison et. al., 14.

[45] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #7, December 2009,

[46] 42 U.S.C. § 2000(d). Some state courts continue to “impede, hinder, or restrict” participation by LEP individuals. See Center for Children’s Law and Policy, “Fact Sheet: Guidelines for State Courts Serving Limited English Proficient (LEP) Youth and Family Members,” at

[47] American Bar Association, Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants, “Standards for Language Access in Courts,” (Chicago, IL: February 2012), 69,

[48] Moeller, 7; see, also, Willison et. al., 14.

[49] Maria F. Ramiu and Dana Shoenberg, “Strategies for Serving Hispanic Youth,” DMC Technical Assistance Manual, 4th Edition, Chapter 7, pp. 7-7 – 7-8,

[50] Dana Shoenberg, “Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Pennsylvania,” p. 3.

[51] Ramiu and Shoenberg, 7-11 – 7-12.

[52] 42 U.S.C. § 2000(d).

[53] See Center for Children’s Law and Policy, “Fact Sheet: New Federal Guidance for State Courts Serving Limited English Proficient (LEP) Youth and Family Members,”

[54] Justice for Families, “Families Unlocking Futures: Solutions to the Crisis in Juvenile Justice” (September 2012), 30-31,

[55] The Annie E. Casey Foundation, “Detention Reform: An Effective Approach to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice” (Baltimore, MD: 2009), 5,

[56] David Steinhart, “Juvenile Detention Risk Assessment” (The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, Baltimore, MD: 2006), 7,

[57] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #20, Jan. 2011,

[58] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #31, July/August 2012,

[59] Shoenberg, 2.

[60] Dana Shoenberg, Deputy Director, Center for Children’s Law and Policy, email communication, Feb. 13, 2014.

[61] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #11, April 2010,

[62] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #29, March 2012,

[63] Balck, Advances, 19.

[64] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #32, Oct/Nov. 2012,; data from Dana Shoenberg, Deputy Director, Center for Children's Law and Policy, email communication, Feb. 19, 2014.

[65] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #28, Jan/Feb 2012,

[66] Patrick Griffin, “Models for Change: Innovations in Practice” (Chicago, IL: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Models for Change initiative, Nov. 30, 2010), 9,

[67]DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #31, July/August 2012,

[68]The Annie E. Casey Foundation, “Detention Reform,” 5.

[69] DMC Action Network eNews, #23, May 2011,

[70] Shoenberg, 2- 3.

[71] Daphne R. Robinson, “The Rapides Parish DA’s Neighborhood Accountability Board Program” (presentation to the May 2010 meeting of the DMC Action Network), Models for Change (posted May 5, 2012), accessed January 18, 2014 at

[72] Balck, Advances, 18; Yo! Baltimore, “PACT Evening Reporting Center,” accessed February 19, 2014,

[73] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #10, March 2010,

[74] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #18, November 2010,

[75] Models for Change and the Children’s Law and Policy Center, “Reducing the Incarceration of Youth of Color in Berks County through Structured Decision-making and Community-based Alternatives,” 2

[76] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #17, October 2010,

[77] Anna Wong, “Achieving Better Outcomes for Youth of Color Through JJDPA,” Spark Action, October 29, 2013,

[78] DMC Action eNews, Issue #27, November/December 2011,; DMC Action eNews, Issue #14, July 2010,

[79] “Sedgwick County, Kansas DMC Action Network Initiative 2008-2011: A Project of Models for Change Systems Reform in Juvenile Justice,” presentation,, accessed Feb. 19, 2014.

[80] Ramiu and Shoenberg, 7-14 through 7-17.

[81] DMC Action Network eNews, #23, May 2011,

[82] Mark Soler and Lisa Garry, “Preparation at the Local Level,” in DMC Technical Assistance Manual, 4th ed., (Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, July 2009), 3-2, at; Shoenberg, 1-2.

[83] Office of Hawaiian Affairs, et. al., The Disparate Treatment of Native Hawaiians in the Criminal Justice System., 76.

[84] Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, 9.

[85] Soler and Garry, 4-5.

[86] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #22, April 2011,

[87] Shoenberg, 1-2.

[88] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #34, July/August 2013,

[89] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #16, September 2010,

[90] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #11, April 2010,

[91] The Sentencing Project, “Racial Impact Statements: Changing Policy to Address Disparities,”

[92] The Sentencing Project, “Racial Impact Statements.”

[93] See, e.g., Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission, accessed January 12, 2014,; DC Sentencing and Criminal Code Revision Commission, About the SCCRC, accessed January 12, 2014,; Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy, accessed January 12, 2014,

[94] The Sentencing Project, “Racial Impact Statements.”

[95] The Sentencing Project, “Racial Impact Statements.”

[96] Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission, “MSGC Report to the Legislature” (January 2011), 10, Note that while the Commission can prepare racial impact notes for the legislature, they do so infrequently. During the 2013 legislative session only one racial impact note was prepared. Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission, “Draft- 2014 MSGC Report to the Legislature” (January 15, 2014), 33,

[97] The Sentencing Project e-newsletter (undated), “Announcements,”; State House Sound Bites, “For Prisons Policies, a Plan to Add Racial Impact to the Scales,” WITF, August 20, 2013,

[98] CONN. GEN. STAT. ANN. § 2-24b (West 2013).

[99] National Conference of State Legislatures, “E:Bulletin: Sentencing and Corrections Policy Updates Newsletter,” June 2011,

[100] IOWA CODE ANN. § 2.56 (West 2013 Edition).

[101] Oregon ORS Chapter 0600. (2013 edition).; see also, Leah Sakala, “Oregon Passes Policy to Rein in Racial Disparities in Criminal Law; Which State Will Be Next?” Prison Policy Initiative blog, posted July 9, 2013,

[102] Oregon ORS Chapter 0600. (2013 edition);

[103] National Research Council, Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach (Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2013), 297.

[104] National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC), “Promoting Safe Communities: Recommendations for the 113th Congress” (2013-2014), 2, The NJJDPC is a collaborative of organizations working to promote fair and effective juvenile justice policies, practices, and programs. The National Juvenile Justice Network, which authors the Juvenile Justice Resource Hub, is a member of the NJJDPC.

[105] National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition, 2.

[106] Coalition for Juvenile Justice, “A Pivotal Moment: Sustaining the Success and Enhancing the Future of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act” (September 2009), 33,

[107] National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition, 3; see also,
Anna Wong, “Achieving Better Outcomes for Youth of Color Through JJDPA,” Spark Action, October 29, 2013,

[108] National Research Council, Reforming Juvenile Justice, 300.

[109] National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition, 11. Almost identical recommendations were also made in Ashley Nellis and Brad Richardson in “Getting Beyond Failure: Promising Approaches for Reducing DMC,” Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice (April 22, 2010), 7,

[110] Moeller, 5, 9-11.

[111] Advancement Project, Padres and Jovenes Unidos, Southwest Youth Collaborative, and Children & Family Justice Center of Northwestern University School of Law, “Education on Lockdown: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track” (March 2005),

[112] Youth United for Change, Advancement Project, and The Education Law Center [PA], “Zero Tolerance in Philadelphia: Denying Educational Opportunities and Creating a Pathway to Prison” (January 2011),; “Schools and Justice,” National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, accessed April 23, 2013,

[113] Jacob Kang-Brown, Jennifer Trone, Jennifer Fratello, and Tarika Daftary-Kapur, “A Generation Later: What We’ve Learned About Zero Tolerance in Schools,” 2, (Vera Institute, New York: December 2013),

[114] Kang-Brown et. al., 5.

[115] Note that this is data from school districts with more than 50,000 students. “The Transformed Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC)” (Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, March 2012): 2, accessed January 28, 2014 at

[116] U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division and U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, “Dear Colleague Letter on the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline,” January 8, 2014,

[117] U.S. Department of Education, “General: School Climate and Discipline,” accessed January 15, 2014,

[118] U.S. Department of Justice, et. al., “Dear Colleague Letter,” 4.

[119] For examples, see “Forms, Policies, Protocols,” National Council of Family and Court Judges, accessed April 23, 2013,; Advancement Project, “Proposed Memorandum of Understanding between the School District and Police Department,” and the “Summary of Intergovernmental Agreement between DPS and DPD,” Advancement Project,

[120] Advancement Project, “Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track: Resources,” accessed January 17, 2014,

[121] Mendel, 25.

[122] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #32, Oct/Nov. 2012,

[123] Mendel, 25.

[124] Lizette Alvarez, “Seeing the Toll, Schools Revise Zero Tolerance,” The New York Times, December 2, 2013,

[125] James Bell, Laura John Ridolfi, and Lori Brown, “Collecting and Analyzing Data on Racial and Ethnic Disparities: The Peoria Pilot Project” (April 1, 2009), 16,

[126] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #22, April 2011,

[127] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #22; DMC Action eNews, Issue #27, November/December 2011,

[128] Griffin, 8.

[129] Griffin, 8.

[130] DMC Action Network eNews, Issue #28, Jan/Feb 2012,

[131] Liz Bowie, “Md. Passes New Student Disciplinary Code,” Baltimore Sun, January 28, 2014,; Donna St. George, “Maryland Approves New School Discipline Regulations,” Washington Post, January 28, 2014,

[132] Balck, Advances, 20.

[133] Balck, Advances, 19.

[134] Advancement Project, “Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track.”

[135]Connecticut General Statutes Section 10-233c; Mendel, 25, citing “Keep Kids In School: Improving School Discipline,” Connecticut Appleseed, February 2011.

[136] Mendel, 25, citing “Keep Kids In School: Improving School Discipline,” Connecticut Appleseed, February 2011; Connecticut Appleseed, “Keep Kids In School: Improving School Discipline,” 7,

[137] Connecticut State Department of Education, “Suspensions and Expulsions in Connecticut” (June 5, 2013), 13,

[138] Connecticut State Department of Education, “Suspensions and Expulsions,” 29.

[139] United States Department of Education, “Appendix 1: Directory of Federal School Climate and Discipline Resources” (January 2014), 36,; United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, “Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Oakland Unified School District Compliance Review (09-12-5001),” accessed January 16, 2014,

[140] United States Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, Letter of Findings to Dr. Anthony Smith, Superintendent, Oakland Unified School District (Sept. 27, 2012), 5-6,

[141] United States Department of Education, “Appendix 1: Directory of Federal School Climate and Discipline Resources”, 37; United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, “Title VI: Christina School District (DE) (03-10-5001)”, accessed January 16, 2014,

[142] United States Department of Education, “Appendix 1: Directory of Federal School Climate and Discipline Resources”, 35.

[143] Balck, Advances, 20.

[144] United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, “Educational Opportunities Cases,” accessed January 16, 2014,

[145] Neelum Arya, State Trends: Legislative Victories from 2005 to 2010 Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System (Washington, DC: Campaign for Youth Justice, 2011),

[146] Jolanta Juszkiewicz, Too Punish a Few: Too Many Youth Caught in the Net of Adult Prosecution (Washington, DC: Campaign for Youth Justice, October 2007), 4,

[147] M. Sickmund, T. J. Sladky, W. Kang, & C. Puzzanchera, "Easy Access to the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement" (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2013),; Juszkiewicz, 17.

[148] Carmen Daughtery, “State Trends: Legislative Victories from 2011-2013” (Campaign for Youth Justice, October 10, 2013), 1,

[149] Patrick Griffin, Sean Addie, Benjamin Adams, and Kathy Firestine, “Trying Juveniles as Adults: An Analysis of State Transfer Laws and Reporting” (United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, September 2011),

[150] Campaign for Youth Justice, “Key Facts: Youth in the Justice System” (updated April 2012), accessed January 20, 2014, citing Todd D. Minton, “Jail Inmates at Midyear 2009” (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, June 2010, NCJ 230122),, and Heather C. West, “Prison Inmates at Midyear 2009” (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, June 2010, NCJ 230113),

[151] Campaign for Youth Justice, “Key Facts: Youth in the Justice System.”.

[152]Campaign for Youth Justice, “State Trends: Legislative Victories from 2011-2013,” 3.

[153] Patrick Griffin, et al., “Trying Juveniles as Adults: An Analysis of State Transfer Laws and Reporting,” 2.

[154] Arya, State Trends: Legislative Victories from 2005-2010, 29; Daugherty, 4.

[155] Dan Tuohy, “NH Police Chiefs Association Opposes Raising Age to Be Tried as an Adult to 18,” New Hampshire Union Leader (January 12, 2014); H.R. 1624, 2014 Leg., Reg. Sess. (N.H. 2014),

[156] Patrick Griffin, et al., “Trying Juveniles as Adults: An Analysis of State Transfer Laws and Reporting,” 2; Campaign for Youth Justice, “The Consequences aren’t Minor: The Impact of Trying Youth as Adults and Strategies for Reform” (March 2007), 10,;

[157] Arya, State Trends: Legislative Victories from 2005-2010, 33; Daugherty, 5-6.

[158] In Miller v. Alabama, 132 U.S. 2455, 2457 (2012), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole was unconstitutional if applied to youth who were under the age of 18 at the time they committed their offense on the grounds that such a sentence violates the Constitution’s eighth amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment; the Supreme Court banned life without parole sentences for youth convicted of non-homicide crimes in Graham v. Florida, 130 S.Ct. 2011 (2010); the Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for youth in Roper v. Simmons, 543 U. S. 551 (2005).

[159] Daugherty, 1.

[160] Francine T. Sherman, “Justice for Girls: Are We Making Progress?,” UCLA Law Review 59 (2012):1584, 1617,;.

[161] While this has been the most widely noted, increased disparities have also been noted in some studies for Hispanic girls. Jyoit Nanda, “Blind Discretion: Girls of Color & Delinquency in the Juvenile Justice System,” UCLA Law Review 59 (2012):1502, 1526, citing Lori D. Moore & Irene Padavic, Racial
and Ethnic Disparities in Girls’ Sentencing in the Juvenile Justice System, Feminist Criminology
5 (2010):263, 279, available at

[162] Jyoit Nanda, “Blind Discretion,” 1533-34.

[163] Francine T. Sherman, “Justice for Girls,” 1622.

[164] Francine T. Sherman, “Justice for Girls,” 1622–23.

[165] Jyoit Nanda, “Blind Discretion,” 1502, 1528; Easy Access to the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement: 1997-2011, “Offense Profile of Detained Residents by Sex and Race/Ethnicity for United States, (Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2011), accessed February 11, 2014,

2 thoughts on “Reform Trends”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.