This 2006 fact sheet brings an awareness to the racial inequity within the juvenile justice system, shows the consequences of unintended biased actions, and presents tools and strategies to mitigate the problems. This brief is one part of a Race Matters toolkit. For more information, visit the Race Matters Institute website.
Unintended bias affects kids of color in trouble with the law.
Findings & Stats
Jail Time Comparison
In 2006, black youth were 6 times more likely and Hispanic youth 3 times more likely than whites to be jailed, even when white, black and Hispanic youths with no priors were charged with the same crime.
Although youth of color represent only 1/3 of the U.S. adolescent population, they make up 2/3 of youth confined in local detention and state correctional systems.
While white kids engage in unlawful behaviors more than their black and Latino/a peers, statistics show they are more than twice as likely not to be arrested.
Statements & Quotations
Justice system personnel must have objective criteria with which to make critical decisions. Risk assessment tools should be examined for unintended racial bias, which would show if youth of color are impacted differently than white youth when their circumstances are comparable.
Because the juvenile system workforce, including top level administrators and policy makers,does not reflect the demographics of the population served within the system, stereotyping and discrimination are more likely.
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