White sneakers point up, black sneakers point down.

It’s Time for Different Strategies to Fight Racial Disparities

Those of us who have spent months and years working to make responses to youthful law violations effective, equitable and more just have much to be proud of. The volume of philanthropic investments working in sites directly, supporting research, advancing science, incentivizing advocacy and in some cases organizing have made a significant difference in youth justice practices.

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.