over-representation is not limited to the disproportion of minority youth
in confinement but is often a product of decisions at early points in
the juvenile justice system. Decisions to make the initial arrest, to
hold a youth in detention pending investigation, to refer a case to juvenile
court, to petition a case, and to establish a sanction all can contribute
to minority over-representation.
of over-representation of minority youth in the juvenile institutions
do not rest with the juvenile justice system but include socioeconomic
factors, the educational system, and the family setting. The complexity
of the problem necessitates the engagement of many stakeholders in a broad-based
effort to address the issues.
at a previous Governor's Summit
|| Judges || Juvenile Corrections
|| Adult Corrections || Educators
|| Law Enforcement || Local
Juvenile Departments || Boards and Commissions
|| Advocacy Organizations || Tribal
Governments || Faith Community || Community
Members || Social Services || Business
|| Parents and Families || Youth
Act as advocates and representatives of people in legal matters, i.e.,
provide legal counsel to those who seek those services. Minority over-representation
is caused in part by disparate charging practices among youth of certain
races and ethnicities. Prosecutors have some discretion in charging
decision and may benefit from discussion on how particular decisions affect
As members of the Oregon Judicial Department, a separate and independent
branch of government, judges strive to provide fair and accessible justice
services that protect the rights of individuals, preserve community welfare
and inspire public confidence. Judges decide at the preliminary hearing
whether to keep a youth in detention or to release the youth. If charges
are sustained, a judge will decide at an adjudicatory hearing whether
the youth committed the alleged act. If the judge imposes disposition,
several options are available.
Juvenile Corrections Officers seek to protect the public by holding youth
offenders accountable and providing opportunities for reformation.
The Oregon Department of Corrections promotes public safety by holding
offenders accountable for their actions and reducing the risk of future
criminal behavior. Youth may receive sentences that include incarceration
in a Department of Corrections facility upon reaching the age of 25. Minority
youth are more likely than non-minorities to be tried as adults.
Studies show a strong link between high school dropouts and involvement
in the juvenile justice system. We will continue to work on this issue
and facilitate collaboration among educators and others who work with
Oregon's youth to reduce the minority dropout rate and minority
over-representation in the juvenile justice system.
Law enforcement seeks to maintain and improve community livability by
working in partnership with the community to identify the root causes
of crime, disorder, and fear of crime. The relationships between law enforcement
and minority youth, including mutual perceptions and treatment, is a factor
in the over-representation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system.
The Oregon Juvenile Department Directors' Association envisions a juvenile
justice system that provides community protection, reduces juvenile crime,
holds youth accountable, and honors the diversity of the people, culture,
and communities of the state. The Summit provides a forum to discuss the
unique needs, concerns, and experiences of minority youth in Oregon.
As components of a funding stream distribution point, Oregon boards and
commissions can provide policy and planning, technical assistance, data
collections and analysis to ensure that state policies, programs, and
services address the needs of at-risk minority youth. By examining the
data and practices at each decision point in the justice system, these
stakeholders can identify and seek to eliminate barriers to service and
promote programs that employ evidence-based best practices.
These organizations advocate for the development and delivery of services
tailored to the unique needs of the people they represent. The Summit
brings together the people who advocate change and those who have the
authority to make changes.
at a previous Governor's Summit
Indian tribes represent unique legal entities in the United States and
are distinct political communities with extensive powers of self-government.
Oregon's Legislative Commission on Indian Services (CIS) works with the
State of Oregon to strengthen ties between tribes and state and to
improve services to Indians both inside and outside of reservations. Representatives
of tribal governments will find a receptive audience at the Summit
among many other justice system stakeholders committed to ensuring fair
and high-quality services to Native Americans.
Oregon's faith-based organizations provide services to their members and
others who may request them. They offer after-school programs, counseling,
and spiritual support to minority youth, providing an important preventative
and restorative alternative to the juvenile justice system.
Community members may be affected by minority youth over-representation
on a daily basis. The Summit brings together those who can share their
experiences and provide faces to the diversity among Oregon's different
Social services include a myriad of human services that address the full
range of client and community needs, such as helping young people make
positive choices and avoid behaviors that put them at risk. Youth programs
and services that exclude families or fail to address their needs can
result in high failure rates for program participants. Ensuring that barriers
to family involvement in both judicial proceedings and probationary programs
are eliminated can have a positive impact on reducing disproportionate
minority contact (DMC) and over-representation.
Corporations and businesses can have an impact on reducing minority over-representation
by providing mentoring, work/employment, and internship opportunities
to youth at risk who are going back to their communities. For example,
recreation and after school educational enrichment opportunities developed
and offered not only by business, but also by social service agencies,
not for profit entities, and faith based organizations
The importance of parent-child relationships strengthens the capacity
of families to make crucial contributions to their children's welfare.
It is of the utmost importance for parents to address the effective and
enduring strategy of improving parenting practices to prevent juvenile
delinquency. Programs and services may exclude families or may not address
their needs, thus resulting in high failure rates. Ensuring that barriers
to family involvement and court or program access are eliminated can have
a positive impact on reducing DMC.
are welcome to participate in this conference.
"None of us can fail
to recognize either the problem we are here to address, or the threat it
poses to our future. We can all agree that when any child
becomes involved in criminal activity, that is one child too many. We
can also agree that the disproportionate number of minority youth who
drift -- or who are driven -- into lives of crime reflects an
unfortunate and unacceptable racial imbalance that we can no longer
afford to tolerate. As long as young people of color are
over-represented among our children at risk; as long as they
disproportionately fail in school; as long as they are
disproportionately present at every stage of the juvenile justice
process -- from arrest through incarceration --
we have not come far enough."
John A. Kitzhaber, M.D.
November 18, 2008