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Disproportionate Minority Contact in the Maryland Juvenile Justice System

NCJ Number
Douglas Young; Christina Yancey; Sara Betsinger; Jill Farrell
Date Published
January 2011
164 pages
This is the first comprehensive analysis of the nature and extent of disproportionate minority contact (DMC) in Maryland's juvenile justice system, as well as the initiatives intended to reduce DMC.
This report determined that DMC continues as an entrenched problem in the State's juvenile justice system. It persists despite expanded efforts to reduce such disparities, and in some areas, DMC has worsened. The U.S. Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency (OJJDP) had identified points of contact where DMC may occur: arrest, referral, diversion, detention, petitioning, delinquency finding, probation, residential placement, confinement, and transfer to adult court. The Relative Rate Index (RRI) is the measurement approach used by OJJDP and the States to assess disproportionate minority contact in the juvenile justice system. RRIs are calculated such that a score of 1.00 indicates that minorities and Whites have the same level or rate of contact. RRIs above 1.0 mean the group in question has a higher (and disproportionate) rate of contact compared to Whites. Based on the statewide RRI analyses, disparities exist for both African-American and Latino youth at the diversion, detention, and secure confinement stages of juvenile justice process. Statewide there was no pattern of trends up or down on RRIs for African-Americans between 2004 and 2008. Disparities at the detention and secure confinement levels among Latinos remain a concern. Findings from the assessment of programs to reduce DMC in the juvenile justice system show the need to improve the various current State-directed and funded structures for addressing DMC. In addition to strengthening and clarifying coordinator and committee roles and functions, better systems are needed for monitoring the impact of DMC reduction strategies. Extensive tables, 14 references, and appended supplementary data and study instruments