Oregon is nationally
recognized as a leader in the effort to address minority over-representation
in the juvenile justice system because of its long-standing commitment
to rethink and ultimately improve its juvenile justice system. Since 1988,
the Oregon Commission on Community Children and Youth Services Commission
(and its successor, the Oregon Commission on Children and Families) have
been studying the problem of disproportionate over-representation of minority
youth in secure facilities and developing strategies to address the problem.
Between 1992 and 1996, Oregon implemented six pilot projects to address
the overrepresentation issue: a system wide cross-cultural training program,
the implementation of a juvenile detention alternative initiative in Multnomah
County and a major overhaul of the entire juvenile system (Oregon Supreme
Court Implementation Committee).
The Oregon state legislature created the Oregon Commission on Children
and Families (the Commission) to build on efforts by both the Juvenile
Services Commission and the Oregon Community Children and Youth Services
Commission and provide comprehensive planning for the "wellness"
of all children. The Commission funds and monitors initiatives by county
commissions to serve the needs of children and their families in their
communities. Localities must fulfill 10 guiding principles established
by the legislature to receive Commission funds. Among them, a community's
ethnic, cultural and language diversity must be an integral component
of comprehensive planning.
The Hispanic Youth
on the Move Project (Malheur County)
Funded by the Commission on Children and Families in 1994, the Mexican
American Citizens League designed this initiative to reduce over-representation
of Hispanic youth in confinement through intervention strategies (e.g.,
mentoring), improved relationships with juvenile practitioners (e.g.,
providing interpretation services), and a computer tracking system.
In April 1999 the Portland Police Bureau, metro area Chiefs and Sheriffs,
and the Superintendent of the State Police joined together with their
union and labor representatives to sign the Law Enforcement Non-Discrimination
Resolution. This resolution took a strong stand against the practice of
race-based profiling, or any type of discrimination within the scope of
daily contact with community members.
Bureau Blue Ribbon Panel on Racial Profiling (Multnomah County)
In May 2000 Chief
Mark A. Kroeker convened the Blue Ribbon Panel on Racial Profiling, a
panel of community members and police to study, discuss, and make recommendations
on improving the police-community partnership with regard to racial profiling.
The panel defined racial profiling as the use of race as the sole basis
for justifying traffic stops or other police action and offered recommendations
to the Bureau in five areas: recruitment, promotion and retention; communication;
training; data collection; and accountability.
promotion, and retention
- Hire more minority
officers. Create awareness among the minority communities regarding
the Bureau's hiring needs. Ensure that hiring practices are inclusive,
rather than exclusive.
- Encourage minority
individuals to become part of areas within the Bureau where there is
- Evaluate job classifications
and assignments to assess the current level of under-representation
and take steps to address it. Look for proportion, equity, throughout
the Bureau, not just an increase in the current number of minority individuals
working for the Bureau as a whole (i.e. minority individuals working
at all levels of the Bureau including sworn and non-sworn positions).
- Examine standards
and barriers to entry and promotion, making sure they do not exclude
minorities. Continually monitor the process of recruiting, hiring, and
- Recruit and promote
people who possess qualities that are not easily taught. Individuals
should be selected because they possess the ability to motivate others,
in addition to having other skills that are not easily taught. They
should also value quality customer service, and demonstrate this through
- Learn from the
minority employees who already work for the Bureau. Create a way for
people to share their ideas and experience with decision-makers, so
systems can be designed that will promote diversity. Validate those
individuals who share their ideas, concerns and experience, listen and
consider their suggestions. Continuously look for ways of improving
existing systems, as well as maintaining the ones that are working well.
police communication with community members at the time of the stop
or arrest. Officers need to explain to community members the reason
for the stop or the reason for the arrest, and they need to explain
to on-lookers, whenever possible, the reason for a stop or arrest.
- Improve overall
customer service. The Bureau should develop strategies to strengthen
overall customer service throughout the organization, and to strengthen
its customer service orientation. Ask existing Bureau advisory groups
to develop recommendations for new strategies to improve customer service.
- Create a complaint
line for stops. The Bureau should support the creation of a neutral
phone number for community members to call when wanting to report discriminatory
practices during a police stop or an arrest. This phone line would operate
independently from the Bureau. The information gathered through this
line should be shared with the Internal Affairs Division for possible
follow-up investigation. This would support a sense of "checks
and balances" to the complaint system.
- Use mediation
as a way of resolving complaints. Mediation provides a way for
everyone involved in a complaint to be heard. It also provides an opportunity
for the people directly involved to resolve the situation in a timely
- Communicate the
result of the complaint process. The Bureau and the Police Internal
Investigations Auditing Committee should improve their methods to communicate
the results of complaints to the public so people are more informed
on the types of complaints that are received and the outcome of the
investigations of these complaints.
- Conduct in-service
training. The Bureau should ensure that all employees understand that
discriminatory practices will not be tolerated. In-service training
will include topics such as cultural diversity, customer service, and
interpersonal conflict resolution skills. Additional topics for in-service
training need to be community driven. It is important to monitor the
quality and effectiveness of all training, especially that which relates
to diversity. The Bureau should also provide incentives (i.e. acknowledgement)
for officers who participate in these trainings.
- Coordinate opportunities
for exchange programs. Full immersion into another culture will build
cultural awareness. Officers will become more sensitive to other cultures
if they have experienced living in a culture other than their own.
- Provide mentoring
and coaching for all personnel. Instill the value of customer service
free from racial profiling into the culture, by one-on-one problem solving
and recognition of accomplishments. Plan on coaching people throughout
their careers, not just during their probationary period. Ongoing coaching
and mentoring allows supervisors to identify potential problems, and
correct them in an expedient manner. Mentoring and coaching, as suggested
here, are not intended as part of a disciplinary process, but as a way
of helping develop people.
- Create a system
for monitoring training. Hold individuals accountable for the training
they receive. Encourage sharing of new information, and implementation
of learned techniques, principles and ideas. The responsibility of ensuring
use of training falls not only on the trainees, but also on the supervisors.
Develop a process for correcting behavior that is not consistent with
- Encourage community
involvement. Promote opportunities for officers to interact with residents
outside their "enforcement" role. This informal "training"
promotes understanding, breaks down barriers and reduces the "us"
versus "them" phenomenon. Community involvement is also consistent
with the vision for communication.
- Implement the
data collection recommendations from Oregon's Governor's Public Safety
Planning and Policy Council. This council is requesting that Oregon
policing agencies collect the information found below. Participating
agencies' information will be compiled, and the findings shared with
the 2001 Oregon State Legislature.
- Collect data on
traffic stops, subject stops and conversations that include police action
in the form of a search, citation or arrest. Collect the following information:
perceived race, perceived gender, estimated age, reason for the stop,
whether there was a search or frisk and the disposition of the action.
The entire Bureau should be part of this process, not just a pilot project
consisting of a small number of officers.
- Participate in
the data and policy monitoring activities of the Public Safety Coordinating
Council's Working Group on theOver-Representation of Minorities in the
Criminal Justice System. This work group purposed the formation of a
task force to develop community solutions to the problem of over-representation,
and to ensure ongoing monitoring of data and policies across all components
of the criminal justice system.
- Work in cooperation
with the Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC), the Bureau's Data
Processing Division and the Bureau's Planning and Support Division regarding
- Research technology
and funding sources. Look into other ways officers can enter the data
without a Mobile Digital Computer (MDC) because some officers do not
have easy access to MDCs (i.e. motorcycle officers, Mounted Patrol Unit
officers, bicycle patrol officers). One type of hardware that is on
the market is an automated citation device, which not only records the
necessary data, but also generates and prints the citation for the officer.
- Clearly define
Bureau expectations. This recommendation ties in to the recommendations
for communication; training; and recruitment, promotion, and retention.
The Bureau should communicate clear expectations and the consequences
if those expectations are not met. Use these expectations as guidelines
for creating training plans.
- Hold individuals
at all levels of the Bureau accountable. This means that accountability
is not just for officers or for the leadership, but for all officers
and leaders, sworn and non-sworn. Every member of the Bureau is held
to these same standards and expectations.
- Conduct outreach
efforts in the community. The Bureau should build awareness of expectations
and efforts around the issue of racial profiling.
Student Internship Program (Marion County)
Funded by the Commission on Children and Families in 1994, the Marion
County Juvenile Department established a bilingual/bicultural internship
for college students to improve the provision of services to Hispanic
youth, therebying reduce their presence in confinement, and to diversify
the department's workforce by employing the student interns upon graduation.
- Increase the availability
and improve the quality of diversion programs for
minority youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
County Juvenile Detention Alternative
has been nationally recognized for Multnomah County's juvenile detention
alternative initiative, a program to reduce minority youth over-representation
by eliminating racial bias in the detention system.
and Gender Specific Resource Guide
The Supreme Court Implementation Committee encouraged the Commission on
Children and Families to develop a list of juvenile experts on minority
cultures and make the list available to juvenile court staff and practitioners.
The Commission, working with the Oregon Youth Authority and the Oregon
Criminal Justice Commission, produced the first edition in January 2001.
The Spanish Language Legal Network publishes a directory of Oregon attorneys
who speak Spanish as a referral resource for non-English-speaking people.
The directory provides addresses, phone numbers, and specialty areas of
Spanish-speaking attorneys. Listings also include the attorneys' self-assessed
Spanish-speaking ability on a scale of 1 to 10. The directories are provided
free to non-profit agencies serving the Hispanic community; other businesses
and individuals can purchase it for $10 from the Spanish Language Legal
to Provide Interpreters to Non-English-Speaking Parents
The 2001 Oregon legislature adopted a proposal of the Oregon Judicial
Department's Access to Justice for All Committee to allow court appointment
of interpreters for non-English-speaking parents, guardians, and persons
granted rights of limited participation in juvenile delinquency cases.
Given shifting demographic trends, the group of individuals who might
influence a juvenile's life has expanded. An uncle or a sister without
custody or the title of legal guardianship might in fact be the most influential
person in a child's life. Now, laws governing juvenile proceedings recognize
this circumstance by providing the right to an interpreter to those persons
who have extended personal involvement with the child, or have been granted
rights of limited participation.
- Provide juvenile
court instructions and forms in languages other than English.
- Seek program models
that identify culture-specific methods of case management.
- Increase the availability
of viable and credible community-based alternatives for minority youth
involved in the juvenile justice system.
Transition Program (Oregon Youth Authority, Office of Minority Services)
The Oregon Youth Authority, Office of Minority Services continues to expand
and enhance the Minority Youth Transition Program. The Transition Program
provides services to minority youth leaving secure custody and returning
to Marion, Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties as well as others
on a case by case basis. The Transition Program has been recognized as
a national model both at the National Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention (OJJDP) Conference December 2000 in Washington, DC and last
spring at the National American Correctional Association/OJJDP "
Going Home" Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Office of
Minority Services provides consultation and technical assistance nationally
regarding transition/re-entry services. The Transition Specialists continue
to work with Parole Officers and Supervisors, community providers, Minority
Services staff, faith-based organizations, the youth's family and
the youth to develop individualized transition plans. Youth may receive
incentives and graduated consequences while on the Transition Program.
For more information contact Minority Youth Transition Program Coordinator
Christina Puentes at (503) 373-7260.
Project (Multnomah County)
Funded by the Commission on Children and Families in 1991, the Multnomah
County Juvenile Justice Division sought to improve services to minority
youth during the first three months following release from custody. A
Parole Transition Coordinator staffed the project and performed the following
duties: meeting with youth at training schools and close custody camps;
attending Close Custody Review Board hearings and case reviews; working
with juvenile parole staff to develop an effective transition plan for
each youth; and developing community-based resources for paroled youth.
The Minority Youth
Advocacy Program (Lane County)
Funded by the Commission on Children and Families in 1991 and 1994, the
Lane County Department of Youth Services sought to reduce recidivism among
minority youth offenders by addressing their needs in a more culturally
appropriate manner and providing them support in the larger community.
Services to minority youth and their families included counseling, mentoring
through the Big Brother Program, interpreter/translation services, transportation,
court advocacy, conflict mediation, liaison to schools, and information
and referrals. These services were designed to help youth overcome behavioral,
language, self-esteem, and cultural identify issues
- Provide support
for after-care programs designed to facilitate reintegration of minority
youth from state and county facilities back to their home communities.
The Data Collection
The Commission on Children and Families studied methods that counties
could use to improve data collection at all decision points in the juvenile
system and thereby enhance the Commission's ongoing monitoring efforts.
Native American Pass
Through Initiative (NAPTI), the Commission on Children and Families contracted
a study on how to use OJJDP funds for Native American tribes to study
juvenile justice issues within their communities. The NAPTI Committee
adopted the following recommendations:
- Address the
lack of data on Native American youth
- Provide technical
assistance to Native American professionals
- Provide training
on tribal sovereignty and cultural diversity issues
- Examine tribal/state
- Provide a Native
American resource library
- Address the
lack of funding sources for tribes