Implicit Bias: More Than Just a Few Bad Apples

Youth of color experience the worst outcomes in every youth-serving system, including law enforcement, child welfare and education, the data show conclusively.

Looking Back and Casting Forward: An Emerging Shift for Juvenile Justice in America

This story produced by the Chicago Bureau. The close of 2012 focused so narrowly on terrible events and startling numbers - the Newtown massacre, for example, or Chicago’s sharp rise in homicides - some major criminal justice developments were nearly squeezed out of the national conversation. Take the statements made just over a week ago by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who vowed to take on the tricky issue of the skewed racial picture in the county’s corrections and justice system, including within the juvenile justice system. Speaking to a group of reporters, the news – including a statement that she will “work with the actors in the public safety arena” to lessen the overall corrections population and push alternatives to locking up non-violent offenders – the story got little more than a day’s play on the airwaves and in other media. Always outspoken, the board president served many years as an alderman fighting for various social justice causes, including race and drug issues (she at one point challenged the validity of any national “war on drugs”).

OJJDP Issues Update on Disproportionate Minority Contact

Last week, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) released an updated fact sheet addressing disproportionate minority contact (DMC) in the nation’s juvenile justice system. The OJJDP requires states participating in its Part B Formula Grants program to collect information about the effectiveness of programs and initiatives intended to address the overrepresentation of minority young people in state juvenile justice systems. Using a five-phase DMC reduction model, the OJJDP advises states to calculate disproportionality, assess “mechanisms” contributing to DMC and develop intervention, evaluation and monitoring programs to deter delinquency and initiate systematic improvements. According to 2011 data, 41 states now have DMC subcommittees under State Advisory Groups, while 37 have either part-time or state-level personnel designated as DMC coordinators. Twenty-nine states have collected DMC data at nine contact points within their juvenile justice systems, while an additional 13 have collected DMC data from at least six contact points. Thirty-four states, the updated data indicates, have invested in “targeted local DMC reduction sites.”

Regarding intervention practices, 34 states have implemented systems improvement and delinquency prevention strategies, while 30 have either funded or received funding and/or technical assistance to implement DMC reduction programs patterned after nationally recognized models.

No Quick Fix for Disproportionate School Discipline of Black Students

In the wake of a batch of federal data released earlier this year showing minority children are disproportionately disciplined in schools, experts and policy makers say the reasons are complicated and not so easy to explain. But one thing is clear, they say, changing that is going to require a major shift in school philosophy. African-American students make up 18 percent of the pupils in a major U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights survey covering the 2009-2010 school year. But they make up 35 percent of students suspended once, 46 percent of students suspended more than once, and 39 percent of students expelled. “There’s no proven conclusive definitive explanation,” said Michael Harris, a senior attorney for juvenile justice with the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland, Ca.

Department of Education

Education Data Shows Disproportionate Minority Discipline, Opportunity Gaps For Public School Students

Newly collected data from the Department of Education shows that minority students are disproportionately subject to harsher disciplinary actions in public schools than their peers and offers insight into opportunity gaps for public school students around the country. More than 70 percent of students involved in school arrests or law enforcement referrals were black or Hispanic, according to the report. Black students were three and half times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white peers, the New York Times reported. The Civil Rights Data Collection’s 2009-10 gathered statistics from 72,000 schools, serving about 85 percent of the nation’s students from kindergarten through high school. While the disciplinary data is probably the most dramatic, the statistics illustrated a range of racial and ethnic disparities.

Grant Helps Prevent Disproportionate Minority Contact with Juvenile Justice System

The Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention offers funding for the Disproportionate Minority Contact Community and Strategic Planning Project. The project helps states find ways to ensure that all kids in the Juvenile Justice System are treated fairly. This grant offers as much as $50,000 for a one-year period. The deadline for this project is June 27, 2011 at 11:59 P.M.

 

Jamal Hutchinson is Holding to Holder’s Words

Last June, I had the privilege of being elected to the board of directors of a non-profit in Nashville known as All The King’s Men www.AKMNashville.org. The mission of AKM is pretty straightforward: We strive to reduce the disproportionate minority contact and confinement amongst the young male population across the United States with the Juvenile Court System. Over the past 10 years, I have been blessed with opportunities to serve as a youth advocate, youth program specialist and as an educator to at-risk youth socially and academically. These have been rewarding experiences. But I have also seen some disturbing issues over the past decade, including the number of young lives adversely impacted by the juvenile courts, failing schools and failing neighborhoods, as well as the lack of financial support for programs to serve the youth.