This report examines racial and ethnic data at state-level youth justice agencies. It documents inconsistent data categories and reporting practices among Hispanic and Latino youth — a scenario that makes Latino youth less visible within the juvenile justice system.
The publication quantifies this problem with a survey of youth justice agencies in the 11 most populous Latino states and a public records review in all 50 states. Some findings from this work include:
In two of the most populous Latino states, agencies failed to identify Latino demographic data in their report.
In the other 9 most populated Latino states, agencies reported Latino ethnic data but this information was not found in all reports.
States such as Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, and New York, which utilize a single reporting agency, showed consistent racial categories for each contact point.
Four state-level agencies — in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and New Jersey — failed to differentiate between ethnicity and race in their data collection methods and in their reports.
In addition to these findings, the report highlights the experiences of Latino youth, who describe the importance of having their racial and ethnic identity validated by the justice system. It also presents policy and practice recommendations aimed at improving the collection of racial and ethnic juvenile justice data.
State-level youth justice agencies are missing — and minimizing — Latino youth
Findings & Stats
Missing the Mark
Researchers identified 106 state-level youth justice agencies in the United States that produce publicly available reports on arrest, probation, and detention. Just 85 of the 121 reports shared by these agencies included racial and/or ethnic information.
Among the 85 state-level reports sharing racial information, just 76% reported Latino ethnic data for system-impacted youth and 26% incorrectly reported racial information by listing ethnicity as a racial category instead of its own identifying category.
Georgia in Focus
In Georgia, one of the most populous Latino states in the nation, agencies provide very little information on the racial and ethnic identities of justice-involved youth. One example: For information on arrest-index crimes pertaining to justice-involved youth, the only racial options available are “white” and “non-white” youth.
Statements & Quotations
When state agencies fail to disaggregate race and ethnicity, they are putting the accuracy and integrity of demographic data at risk.
Researchers and policymakers alike need accurate, consistent data to analyze the true state of Latino youth and implement impactful, fact-based solutions.