Juvenile Justice and Racial Disproportionality: A Presentation to the Washington Supreme Court
Published Dec 5, 2014, Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System
The over-representation of youth of color in the juvenile justice system has drawn national and local attention since the 1980’s and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of federal, state and private dollars have been dedicated to addressing the issue. Despite this attention, the over-representation of minority youth at every stage of the juvenile justice process persists with very little change. Although the juvenile crime rate is at one of its lowest points in history and progress has been made in reducing overall juvenile detention rates, youth of color continue to be disproportionately arrested, referred to juvenile court, prosecuted, detained and sentenced to secure confinement compared to their white peers.
There is clear evidence of persistent over-representation of youth of color at each stage of the juvenile justice system. The Washington State Center for Court Research (“WSCCR”) analyzed statewide court data from 2009 and found strong evidence of overrepresentation at the early stages of contact with the juvenile justice system: