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Racial and ethnic fairness/DMC

Reducing racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system

Youth of color are overrepresented at nearly every point of contact with the juvenile justice system—and the finding is disturbingly persistent over time. Youth of color are more likely to be incarcerated and to serve more time than white youth, even when they are charged with the same category of offense. Whether these often-stark differences are the result of biases in decision-making, social or economic differences that are merely correlated with race and ethnicity, or more complex structural factors, they are unacceptable in a democratic society.

Reducing "disproportionate minority contact" (DMC) with the juvenile justice system is a critical objective for all four core Models for Change states, and is also the focus of four additional DMC Action Network states. States are working to understand the nature of the problem through better data collection and analysis. Based on that data, states are working to identify appropriate interventions that include tools to promote objective decision-making, improved language and cultural competency, education and workforce development, and detention alternative and nontraditional services.

Through improved data and intentional and targeted interventions, Models for Change states are working to promote fair and unbiased juvenile justice systems that treat youth equally regardless of their race or ethnicity.

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Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.

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