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Juvenile Justice - Issues

Overrepresentation of Youth of Color in Juvenile Justice Systems

Youth of color are overrepresented at every step in the juvenile justice system and in every state. Not surprisingly, they are also overrepresented in the numbers of suspensions and expulsions from school. The connection to school is relevant because of the rates of crime that occur when students should be in school. In Minnesota these discrepancies are illustrated in a report that was published in 2010:

pdf Disproportionate Minority Representation in Suspensions and Expulsions, The Minnesota Department of Education, a project of the MDE Dropout Prevention, Retention and Graduation Initiative

National data reflect consistent overrepresentation of African American and Latino youth in the juvenile justice system. The issue is complex, troubling, and not easily addressed. The connection to poverty, the need for better schools in poor neighborhoods, and the lack of cross cultural training for educators and school administrators are all stumbling blocks in addressing the gap in learning and the high drop-out rates among children of color.

National statistics:

  • African American youth are 4.5 times more likely and Latinos 2.5 times more likely than white youths to be detained for the same crime.
  • When charges are filed, white youth are more likely to be placed on probation while black youth are detained. (And Justice For Some: Differential Treatment of Youth of Color in the Justice System; National Council on Crime and Delinquency 2007). African American offenders are incarcerated at double the rate of whites.

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