Two well known child advocates are making an impassioned plea to fight harder against disproportionate minority contact in juvenile justice systems nationwide. Nancy Gannon Hornberger, executive director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, and her colleague, Gina E. Wood, chair of the Ethnic and Cultural Diversity Committee, write about unfairness, inequality and racial and ethnic disparities in Youth Today.
They urge congress to consider a DMC amendment to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Action, currently up for reauthorization. They recommend a policy requiring every state to identify and solve problems with a six-point plan:
- Establish coordinating bodies to oversee efforts to reduce disparities.
- Identify key decision points in the system (i.e., arrest, detention, diversion) and the criteria by which decisions are made.
- Create systems to collect local data at these points of contact of youth with the juvenile justice system (including case level/individual level data) to identify where disparities exist and the causes of such disparities.
- Develop and implement plans to address disparities that include measurable objectives for change.
- Publicly report findings.
- Evaluate progress toward reducing disparities.