Racial Disproportionality


Institutional practices have led to a disproportionate focus on and more punitive responses to the behavior of youth of color.1


  •  Although crime rates and youth confinement have fallen sharply, youth of color remain disproportionately represented at nearly all contact points of the juvenile justice system.2
  •  With 72% of all youth locked up for non-violent offenses, the U.S. does not have an alarming crime problem; we have an alarming incarceration problem – one that primarily harms youth of color.3
  •  Non-residential alternatives in a viable diversion program include social components that address the social barriers negatively impacting youth of color as they relate to poverty, access to employment opportunities, and a fair justice system.4


  •  The alarming incarceration problem ends by reallocating resources in support of the culturally relevant community and neighborhood diversion programs designed to help youth stay in school and out of the court system. Dialogue centered in finding solutions to the high rate of negative outcomes for youth of color begins by addressing policies and procedures that unfairly target youth of color.

Local and National Examples

King County, Washington: Working to eliminating the youth detention process requires justice-involved youth and their families along with community-based organizations, local county and state governmental entities. King County’s “The Road Map to Zero Youth Detention” is an example of a process being informed by the key stakeholders such  as youth, families, communities, and the juvenile legal system who come together to promote the importance of adolescent development. The premise of this project is to develop a collective response to youth in crisis.5

Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court (KKIS) initiative encourages court-community based solutions for addressing the issues of chronic truancy and school discipline polices. One innovative perspective of KKIS relies on juvenile court judges to plan a role in changing the poor outcomes for youth struggling with truancy and school discipline issues.6

[1] http://www.njjn.org/our-work/reducing-racial-and-ethnic-disparities-in-juvenile-justice-systems-promising-practices

[2] https://usdata.burnsinstitute.org/#comparison=2&placement=1&races=2,3,4,5,6&offenses=5,2,8,1,9,11,10&year=2017&view=map

[3] https://usdata.burnsinstitute.org/#comparison=2&placement=1&races=2,3,4,5,6&offenses=5,2,8,1,9,11,10&year=2017&view=map

[4] http://www.njjn.org/uploads/digital-library/Juvenile_justice_reform_in_CT-collaboration-commitment_JPI_Feb2013.pdf

[5] https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/zero-youth-detention.aspx

[6] https://www.courts.ca.gov/23902.htm