Reducing Disproportionate
    Minority Contact
    in the Juvenile Justice System

 

 

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About Disproportionate Minority Contact


What is Disproportionate Minority Contact?

Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) refers to the disproportionate representation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system, in proportion to their representation in the general population and as compared with white youth.  Minority populations / youth of color include:  American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and persons of mixed race/ethnicity.

 

DMC first came to national attention in 1988, when the Coalition of Juvenile Justice (formerly the National Coalition of Juvenile Justice Advisory Councils) focused on the problem in its annual report to Congress.  In response to the report, Congress required that all States receiving formula grant funds address disproportionality among detained and confined youth.  In 1992, Congress elevated DMC to a core requirement for States.  Under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 2002, if a State fails to address the overrepresentation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) may withhold 20% of the State's formula grant allocation for the subsequent year.  The Act expanded the requirement to include disproportionality at all points in the juvenile justice system.  (U.S. Department of Justice; Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2009)

 

In the years since, DMC has become a core requirement for states receiving federal funds through OJJDP.  Research and practice both have taught many lessons.  Two of the most important lessons are 1) that in most jurisdictions, disproportionate juvenile minority representation is not limited to secure detention and confinement, but is evident at nearly all contact points of the juvenile justice system continuum; and 2) contributing factors to DMC are multiple and complex -- reducing DMC requires comprehensive and multipronged strategies that include programmatic and systems change efforts.

 

Racial disparity describes a pattern of outcomes in which some racial groups are treated differently from others. Statistics show that certain outcomes are more likely to occur for individuals of particular racial or ethnic backgrounds. Racially disparate outcomes may occur at one or more decision points in the juvenile justice system, such as arrest, intake, prosecution, and sentencing. For example, if minority youth are more likely to receive detention than non-minority youth for the same offense, then racial disparity in sentencing exists. If we can identify which stages of the juvenile justice system produce racially disparate outcomes, we can more easily investigate why disparity exists. Still, racial disparity itself does not explain why outcomes vary by race or ethnicity.

 

The causes of racial disparities or disproportionate minority youth in the juvenile institutions do not rest solely with the juvenile justice system but include socioeconomic factors, the educational system, and community and family settings.

 

Discrimination is one possible explanation for racial disparities in the juvenile justice system; however, other factors that may contribute to minority over-representation are described below.


DMC Contributing Mechanisms

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

DMC contributing mechanisms are social influences that increase the likelihood of a minority youth coming into contact with the juvenile justice system. These mechanisms resemble the risk factors in the prevention research literature. According to the preventive literature, a mix of risk and protective factors influence a youth over the course of adolescent development in either positive or negative ways to determine the youth’s potential to engage in problem behaviors such as delinquency, substance abuse, dropping out of school, and HIV/AIDS risk behaviors (Hawkins, Catalano, and Miller, 1992). Risk factors increase, and protective factors decrease, the likelihood of problem behaviors. While no single risk factor is more potent than any other, in general the more risk factors and the fewer protective factors present in life, the greater the probability of problem behaviors (Bry, McKeon, and Pandina, 1982; Newcomb, 1995).

Although there are no corresponding protective factors in DMC research as yet, DMC contributing mechanisms similarly can influence the degree of contact a youth has with the juvenile justice system. Like risk factors, the presence of these contributing mechanisms—alone or in combination—increases the likelihood of negative effects (i.e., minority overrepresentation in the juvenile justice system). As is true for risk factors, no single contributing mechanism is more potent than another; however, the greater the number of contributing mechanisms, the greater the probability of minority overrepresentation. Also like risk factors, DMC contributing mechanisms can have a cumulative effect on a youth’s life course that leads to increased involvement with the juvenile justice system. For instance, juvenile justice decision makers tend to use prior record and seriousness of offense as the basis for making any determination (e.g., diversion, detention, formal sanctioning). Therefore, any contributing mechanism that artificially inflates a young offender’s delinquent history will have profound consequences later in life.

Research literature has identified the following as major mechanisms contributing to Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC).

  • Differential Behavior

  • Mobility Effects:  Importation/Displacement

  • Indirect Effects

  • Differential Opportunities for Prevention and Treatment

  • Justice by Geography

  • Legislation, Policies, and Legal Factors with Disproportionate Impact

  • Accumulated Disadvantage

  • Statistical Aberration

Click this link for more information about DMC Contributing Mechanisms.


DMC Reduction Cycle Model

The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, DMC Reduction Cycle Model illustrates the process of continuing reduction efforts:

 

Five Phases of the OJJDP DMC Reduction Cycle Model

 Disproportionate Minority Contact Technical Assistance Manual
(4th Edition  July 2009)

from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Programs
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
 

Phase I: Identification

The primary purpose of this phase is to identify and describe where DMC is occurring, including the relative extent and nature of the DMC issue. This information provides a starting baseline for future monitoring and provides initial guidance for the assessment phase. The Relative Rate Index (RRI) method is used to compare the rates of activity for minority youth with majority youth at selected key decision points in the juvenile justice system:

There are nine decision points in the juvenile justice systems that are generally considered for DMC monitoring and investigation. They are:

  • Decision Point 1 - Juvenile Referrals

  • Decision Point 2 - Juvenile Referrals Received by the Juvenile Department

  • Decision Point 3 - Juvenile Referrals Diverted

  • Decision Point 4 - Juvenile Referrals Involving Secure Detention

  • Decision Point 5 - Juvenile Referrals Petitioned (Charge Filed)

  • Decision Point 6 - Juvenile Referrals Resulting in Delinquent Findings

  • Decision Point 7 - Juvenile Referrals Resulting in Probation Placement

  • Decision Point 8- Juvenile Referrals Resulting in Confinement in Secure Juvenile Correctional Facilities

  • Decision Point 9 - Juvenile Cases Transferred to Adult Court

Additional data and decision points may be considered for assessment or monitoring in a county DMC plan, such as juvenile referrals processed as Measure 11 cases.

Data from other areas may also be monitored, such as the data profile of children and youth who are identified by JCP risk screening as being at imminent risk for entering the juvenile justice system. Contributing factor areas may also be assessed and monitored, such as the data profile of youth who are expelled or drop out of school (by gender, race, ethnicity and geographic area), and other social indicators.

Phase II: Assessment/Diagnosis

The major activity of the assessment phase is to conduct an in-depth examination of why DMC is occurring at one of more key decision points in the system. The assessment process attempts to identify the underlying causes and factors that are contributing to DMC.

Phase III: Intervention

Findings in the Assessment/Diagnosis Phase should point to policy and practice changes, as well as suggest interventions that will reduce the DMC issues that were identified in Phase II.

Corrective actions and interventions usually will fall into four categories.

  1. System Change – modifying or changing policies, procedures or practices in the juvenile justice system that are contributing to identified DMC issues;

  2. Training and Technical Assistance – for various agencies and personnel to improve skills, awareness, competencies, and practice;

  3. Redirected Services - targeting at-risk and system-involved youth, families, and communities with existing resources and early intervention and prevention efforts; and,

  4. New Services - implementation of new services or programs based on specific strategies in the county DMC plan for reducing identified disproportionality or disparities;

Phase IV: Process Evaluation

Evaluation occurs throughout the project. Quarterly RRI data reviews help to determine whether strategies for intervention are achieving desired objectives. Focusing on how an intervention is achieving outcomes assures that the changes in DMC at different points in the system are attributable to planned interventions or for some other reason.

Phase V: Monitoring for Outcomes

The monitoring phase is ongoing. Periodic assessment of the achievement of project objectives as well as assessing RRI trend data is essential in determining whether any changes in DMC in the prioritized decision points is sustained over time and truly reduced.

 

 


 

Oregon DMC Quick Facts

 

Youth Development Council

Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee

2003 – 2011 Disproportionate Minority Contact Relative Rate Index (RRI)

Quick Facts

 

Referrals

 

Race/Ethnicity

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

African American/Black Rate of Contact

2.38

2.45

2.91

2.56

2.48

2.30

2.36

2.39

2.54

African American Number of Youth

1,334

1,319

1,383

1,443

1,435

1,396

1,290

1,323

2,257

Hispanic/Latino Rate of Contact

1.25

1.20

1.71

1.09

1.27

1.23

1.23

1.20

0.97

Hispanic/Latino Number of Youth

3,325

3,362

3,584

3,713

4,068

3,947

3,849

3,752

5,106

Native American Rate of Contact 

1.38

1.28

1.59

1.35

1.38

1.43

1.45

1.59

1.51

Native American Number of Youth 

529

508

443

510

472

472

399

441

750

 

 

Secure Detention

 

Race/Ethnicity

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

African American/Black Rate of Contact

1.08

1.15

1.24

1.43

1.34

1.27

1.22

1.09

0.95

African American Number of Admissions

656

744

872

989

878

794

751

646

541

Hispanic/Latino Rate of Contact

1.00

1.09

n/a

1.19

1.25

1.23

1.24

1.23

1.25

Hispanic/Latino Number of Admissions

1,338

1,484

1,518

1,758

2,110

2,006

1,996

1,835

1,604

Native American Rate of Contact

1.80

1.85

2.41

2.45

1.97

1.88

2.01

2.23

1.74

Native American Number of Admissions

452

417

495

531

426

387

384

411

328

 

Secure Confinement – OYA Facilities

 

Race/Ethnicity

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

African American/Black Rate of Contact 

0.21

1.71

1.48

2.04

2.62

2.59

2.78

2.29

2.12

African American Number of Youth

15

27

26

31

45

40

52

34

51

Hispanic/Latino Rate of Contact 

1.42

n/a

1.16

1.19

1.39

1.51

1.93

1.55

1.31

Hispanic/Latino Number of Youth

48

52

63

73

72

97

177

81

115

Native American Rate of Contact 

n/a

n/a

0.37

1.42

n/a

1.56

.99

2.00

1.96

Native American Number of Youth

22

19

5

25

15

14

13

16

33

 

Cases Transferred to Adult Court

 

Race/Ethnicity

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

African American/Black Rate of Contact

3.66

4.29

4.11

3.57

2.87

4.07

3.21

5.77

4.32

African American Number of Youth

52

61

54

65

66

66

50

65

30

Hispanic/Latino
Rate of Contact

1.39

1.72

2.17

1.98

n/a

2.27

1.78

1.65

1.95

Hispanic Latino Number of Youth

50

66

78

82

79

117

95

71

46

Native American
Rate of Contact

1.84

n/a

1.86

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

1.95

n/a

Native American Number of Youth

19

12

14

13

7

5

5

11

4

 

Data sources and notes: 

Relative Rate Index (RRI) method involves comparing the relative volume (rate) of activity for each major stage of the juvenile justice system for minority youth with the volume of that activity for white (majority) youth. RRI provides a single index number that indicates the extent to which the volume of that form of contact or activity differs for minority and white youth. 

 

2003 – 2010 data from Easy Access to Juvenile Populations, OJJDP

 

2003 - 2011 Juvenile Justice Information System (JJIS) Reports

 

n/a means that data is either not statistically significant or insufficient number of cases for analysis

 

For more information contact Anya Sekino, Juvenile Crime Prevention Manager and Juvenile Justice Specialist, via phone at 503-378-5115 or email at anya.sekino@state.or.us

 


 

Why are minorities over-represented in Oregon's juvenile justice system?

Minority over-representation is a complex social problem with multiple causes. Recent studies help explain how decisions at each stage of the juvenile justice system contribute to the over-representation of minority youth. The annual Governor's Summit brings together the people behind those decisions to work on solutions.

 

Factors that contribute to minority over-representation include:

  • Statutory mandates

  • Patterns of crime

  • Lower socioeconomic status

  • Inadequate preventative social services

  • Law enforcement practices and policies

  • Communication barriers

  • Inadequate cross-cultural competency training

  • Lack of culturally appropriate resources, placements, and services

  • Bias of decision makers

 

Oregon Juvenile Justice System Needs Analysis:
Juvenile Crime Trends and Recidivism Report (March 2011)

William Feyerherm, PhD   Portland State University

Executive Summary

CRIME TRENDS

  • Major groupings of arrest and referral types showed decreases in the number and rate of referrals from 2002 to 2009. The major exception is a small increase in rates of dependency cases.

  • Despite major drops in the referral levels, the mix of types of referrals has remained essentially unchanged from 2002 to 2009.

  • Decreases in the rate of arrests and referrals in Oregon appear to be greater than the declines registered nationally.

  • The total number of youth referred to the juvenile system dropped by 21% between 2002 and 2009.

DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILES

  • Males are likely to have higher referral rates except for dependency (runaway) allegations, but the degree of difference in referral rates is diminishing.

  • Minority youth, especially African-American, Hispanic and Native youth, have higher rates of involvement in the juvenile system than their white counterparts and receive more intensive and intrusive dispositions, including higher rates of detention, lower rates of diversion, higher rates of placement in correctional facilities and higher rates of transfer to adult court.

  • Although the rate of involvement in the juvenile system is dropping for all youth, it appears to be dropping faster for white youth, thus leading to a relative increase in the disparate involvement and handling of minority youth.

RECIDIVISM

  • Juvenile recidivism declined by almost eight percentage points in 2008 compared to the 2003 cohort (from 37 percent to 29 percent).

  • Over two thirds of juveniles with a criminal referral in 2008 did not commit a new offense within 12 months of their initial referral.

  • African-American and Native American youth tend to have higher rates of both recidivism and chronic recidivism than do their white or Asian counterparts.

Click for the full report.

 


 

Are minority youth over-represented in other juvenile justice systems?

Disproportionate Minority Contact in Oregon's Juvenile Justice System:  Identification and Assessment Report (May 2012)

William Feyerherm, PhD   Portland State University

Executive Summary and Key Findings

This report presents findings related to racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system of Oregon. Although some data related to specific counties is presented, the focus of the report is on the State as a whole. Using data in the Juvenile Justice Information System, the report presents the current (2011) picture of Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC), as well as using more elaborate JJIS and other data from 2008-2010 to more deeply explore patterns of DMC in the State.

The primary findings, as with examination of previous data, are that the principal areas of DMC are in the referral of African American and Native American youth into the juvenile justice system, as well as in the higher rates of detention for Native youth.

Further investigation of the differences in referrals of African American and Native youth lead to the following disturbing conclusions:

  • African American youth tend to have more serious allegations when they enter the juvenile justice system and tend to have an earlier age of first referral. Additionally, both African American and Native American youth tend to have had a higher proportion of youth with previous court referrals, a higher proportion of prior referrals for criminal allegations and a higher proportion of prior probation or sentences involving out of home placement.

  • When referred to the courts, both groups of youth tend to have higher risk profiles on the Juvenile Crime Prevention scales, especially those related to peers, school, attitudes and values, and family factors. This is particularly true for youth with multiple court referrals.

  • Both groups of youth have significantly higher rates of founded child welfare cases. Findings of injury, threat of harm, neglect, and mental injury are higher among these court referred youth.

Turning attention from the referral process to the operations of the juvenile courts revealed some additional concerns. Using extensive statistical controls to remove the influence of the differences at referral, we nevertheless found substantial disparities in the operation of the juvenile justice system:

  • Higher odds of Pre-Adjudication Detention for African American youth

  • Higher odds of Petitions filed for Native youth

  • Lower odds of dismissal for petitioned cases involving Hispanic youth

  • Higher odds of transfer to adult court for both African American and Hispanic youth

  • Higher odds of placement in Youth Authority custody for Hispanic youth

While many of these issues argue for more scrutiny in decision-making processes and development of additional resources for minority youth, the major fundamental differences in handling of minority youth within the juvenile justice system may best be addressed by tackling the conditions which bring youth into this system. The good news is that referrals into the justice system have been declining over the past decade; it is time to ensure that this good news applies to all of Oregon’s youth.

Click for the full report.


 

*Sources: