Home Our Work Our Publications Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform: Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC)

Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform: Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC)

Disproportionate Minority Contact: 2015201320122011 2009 


  • California Passes the Racial Identity and Profiling Act of 2015: New legislation will strengthen the current racial profiling law in California by requiring every state and local law enforcement agency to collect data on all law enforcement stops of individuals and annually report this information to the Attorney General. Additionally, the legislation establishes a Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board (RIPA) that is required to investigate and analyze state and local law enforcement agencies’ racial and identity profiling policies and practices, and to publicly report annually on its findings and policy recommendations beginning on January 1, 2018, and to hold public meetings annually. A.B. 953 was authored by Assembly Member Weber and co-authored by Assembly Member Bonta and Senator Mitchell. A.B. 953 was signed into law October 3, 2015.


      • Colorado Requires Gender and Racial Impact Note for Certain Legislation: The Colorado General Assembly passed a bill requiring a gender and racial impact note in all legislative measures proposed by the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice that create a new criminal offense, increase or decrease the classification of an existing criminal offense, or change an element of an existing criminal offense. S.B. 229/Act No. 272, signed into law May 25, 2013; effective July 1, 2013.
      • Connecticut — New Haven Engages in Local-Level Efforts to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Disparities: Following in the footsteps of Bridgeport and Hartford, stakeholders in New Haven are working to replicate successful strategies from the MacArthur Foundation’s DMC Action Network. The project has engaged local stakeholders and state agencies to analyze local data on racial and ethnic disparities, and develop and monitor interventions. To date, stakeholders in all four cities have improved data collection, trained law enforcement officers on community-based diversion options, and expanded eligibility for diversion programs.
      • Illinois Legislature Mandates Collection of Data on Race and Ethnicity: In an effort to gather information on racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system, Illinois now requires the collection of racial and ethnic data at the time of arrest, commitment, and/or transfer from the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to the Department of Corrections (DOC). DJJ and DOC must include the data in their annual reports to the General Assembly. S.B. 1598/Act No. 98-0528, signed into law August 23, 2013; effective January 1, 2015.
      • Oregon Allows Legislators to Request Racial and Ethnic Impact Statements for Juvenile Justice Legislation: The Oregon Legislature passed a bill allowing lawmakers to request racial and ethnic impact statements for any criminal justice, juvenile justice, or child welfare-related bill. Upon written request from one member of the Legislative Assembly from each major political party, the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission must produce a racial and ethnic impact statement for the bill in question. Such a statement must be “impartial, simple, and understandable,” and include an estimate of how the legislation would change the racial and ethnic composition of the targeted population, a statement of methodologies and assumptions used in preparing the estimate, and, if applicable, an estimate of the racial and ethnic composition of the crime victims who may be affected by the proposed legislation. The law is intended to help eliminate the severely disparate racial and ethnic impacts of the three systems. S.B. 463/Act No. 600, signed into law July 1, 2013; effective January 1, 2014.

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      • Tennessee — U.S. Department of Justice Investigation Leads to Consent Decree Addressing Disparate Treatment of African-American Youth: A comprehensive, multi-year investigation of the Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County and the Shelby County Juvenile Detention Center by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed racial discrimination, widespread violations of youth’s due process rights, and excessively harsh treatment of detained youth. Specifically, the investigation found disparate treatment of African-American youth at almost every phase of the juvenile justice system, failure to provide adequate due process protections to youth before transferring them to adult court, failure to provide timely and adequate notice of delinquency charges, and unnecessary and excessive use of restraints, among other violations. Shelby County and DOJ entered into a consent decree in December of 2012, which includes specific remedial measures in the areas of due process, disparate treatment, protection from harm for detained youth, and community outreach.

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      • Connecticut — Bridgeport and Hartford Engage in Local-Level DMC Reduction Efforts: Stakeholders in Bridgeport and Hartford are working to replicate successful strategies from the MacArthur Foundation’s DMC Action Network. The project, begun in June 2011, has engaged local stakeholders and state agencies to analyze local data on racial and ethnic disparities, and develop and monitor interventions. To date, stakeholders have improved data collection, trained law enforcement officers on community-based diversion options, and expanded eligibility for diversion programs.
      • Connecticut — Legislature Requires State to Address Disproportionate Minority Contact: The Connecticut Commissioner of Children and Families, Commissioner of Public Safety, Chief State’s Attorney, Chief Public Defender, Chief Court Administrator, and Police Officer Standards and Training Council must each prepare a report on their plans to address disproportionate minority contact and steps taken to implement those plans during the previous two fiscal years. The first biennial report was submitted to the governor and legislature on December 31, 2011. The report includes a chart of the steps to be taken by various state agencies to address DMC in FY 2012 and FY 2013, focusing on data, policies and practices, shared initiatives, and training and technical assistance. The report also includes information on efforts made by state agencies to address DMC in the past. H.B. 6634/Public Act 11-154, signed into law and effective July 8, 2011.
      • Illinois — State Creates Racial and Ethnic Impact Research Task Force: Illinois’ Racial and Ethnic Impact Research Task Force is to determine a practical method for the standardized collection and analysis of data on the racial and ethnic identity of arrested individuals. The task force is to include a representative from the Department of Juvenile Justice, State Appellate Defender, Cook County Public Defender, and other agencies. S.B. 271/Public Act 97-433, signed into law and effective August 16, 2011.
      • Kentucky — Certain Kentucky Schools Commit to End Disparate Discipline Practices: The Fayette County Public School System and the Kentucky Department of Education—facing claims of disparate discipline practices according to race and disability status of students—entered into settlement agreements in Fayette County (December 2010) and eight other school districts (fall 2011). The agreements include provisions to involve an outside consultant with expertise in Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies (PBIS), conduct district-wide training of all staff on PBIS, revise the districts’ codes of conduct, create compliance committees comprised of community members and school personnel, and regularly track and review data to establish progress. The agreements—coupled with cultural and racial bias training—are designed to end disparities in the district and reduce the flow of students out of schools and into courts. In May of 2011, attorneys with several advocacy organizations filed a similar complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights against the Jefferson County Public School District, the largest school district in Kentucky; the Office of Civil Rights is currently investigating these claims.
      • Missouri — Cole County Reduces DMC by Limiting School Referrals to Police: A revision to the school referral policy in Cole County, Missouri eliminated the referral of minor offenses to the juvenile office. In 2009, African American youth were almost ten times as likely as white youth to be referred to the juvenile court. By 2011, the revision to the referral policy had cut that rate by almost half. Minor offenses are now handled at the school, rather than being referred to the juvenile office by school resource officers. Additionally, de-escalation training was provided to special education teachers, based on the high rate of referrals from special education classes.
      • North Dakota — State Funds Demonstration Program to Address Over-Representation of Native American Youth in Juvenile Justice System: In 2008, the North Dakota Supreme Court approved $100,000 in funding for a pilot program to address the over-representation of Native American youth in the juvenile justice system; the program received state general fund appropriations beginning July 1, 2011. The program focuses on two counties with large Native American youth populations not living on a reservation. Native American youth represent 6.1 percent of the at-risk youth population, but make up 26.5 percent of court referrals in the designated counties. The program focuses on several different points along the continuum, including prevention, diversion, and post-adjudication efforts to prevent placement. A crisis management component focuses on preventing Native American youth from entering the system when they cannot be immediately and safely returned to their parents. A case management component focuses on diversion and the enhancement of services in order to prevent formal adjudications resulting in out-of-home or correctional placements. The program is also developing culturally relevant support services that could have a greater impact on delinquency prevention and early intervention than commonly used one-on-one counseling approaches.
      • Texas — State Establishes Disproportionality Council: Texas’ new Interagency Council for Addressing Disproportionality will examine the level of disproportionate involvement of youth who are members of a racial or ethnic minority group at each stage of the juvenile justice, child welfare, and mental health systems. Stages include points of entry, points at which treatment decisions are made, and outcomes for youth exiting the systems. The council will also make recommendations on ways to reduce the number of racial and ethnic minority youth in the juvenile justice, child welfare, and mental health systems. The council is to submit a report to the legislature by December 1, 2012. S.B. 501, filed without governor’s signature and effective May 21, 2011.
      • Washington — Juvenile Rehabilitation Authority Focuses on Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities: Due in part to its participation in the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change initiative, Washington’s Juvenile Rehabilitation Authority (JRA) reorganized and prioritized its work to address racial and ethnic disparities. In 2010, the JRA Assistant Secretary issued a directive requiring the disaggregation of data by race, ethnicity, and gender for all reports generated in the normal course of business, establishing baseline measures to examine disproportionate minority contact in JRA as well as the effectiveness of DMC intervention strategies. In 2011, JRA reviewed internal release decision-making and is now implementing practices to reduce subjectivity in assessments used for determining risk level. In December 2011, JRA issued executive orders to increase youth access to community-based programs. JRA also created a program administrator position focused on reentry, transition, and education. Lastly, JRA committed to ongoing quality assurance to ensure that the changes in tools and polices lead to actual reductions in racial and ethnic disparities at the point of release.

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      • Connecticut — New DMC Study Paves the Way for Change: In May 2009, Connecticut’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee completed its third in-depth research study of disproportionate minority contact at nearly all decision points across the system (the study does not include the decision to arrest, as Connecticut does not require patrol officers to report incidents that do not involve arrests or formal warnings). The report includes several recommendations for policy and practice changes, such as improved, more frequent data collection and reporting, and making a judge’s order a requirement for every detention admission.
      • Indiana — State Awards Grants for DMC Reduction Efforts; Legislature Oversees Measures to Reduce DMC: In an effort to reduce DMC, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute awarded two grants to community-based organizations and Indiana State University, with which it will join in a statewide effort to enhance data collection, provide a web-based training and technical assistance center, establish standards for cultural sensitivity training, and pilot training of community stakeholders. Additionally, a new Board for the Coordination of Programs Serving Vulnerable Individuals established by the legislature will oversee the implementation of the recommendations made by Indiana’s Commission on Disproportionality in Youth Services. Currently, youth of color in Indiana are disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice, child welfare, education, and mental health systems. The board must provide quarterly reports on its progress to the governor, legislature, and Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. H.B. 1289/Public Law 173, signed into law May 13, 2009; effective July 1, 2009.
      • Kansas — Governor Launches Effort to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare: Kansas’ former governor launched an effort to promote racial and ethnic equity across all Kansas child welfare and juvenile justice programs. The effort brought together 10 communities to examine disparities and generate recommendations for reform. Each community detailed its recommendations in a final report submitted to the governor. Sedgwick County in particular focused on reducing disparities in the juvenile justice system by recommending the elimination of zero tolerance policies, development of an objective screening tool to be used in detention facilities, implementation of a risk assessment tool to be used by probation officers, cultural competency and anti-racism training, and development of multi-system approaches to better integrate and coordinate service delivery for youth served by multiple systems. Data from an evaluation of the initiative shows a drop in arrests of African American youth between 2009 and 2011, and an overall drop in out-of-home placements.
      • Louisiana — Rapides Parish Reduces Disproportionate Probation Revocations Using Standardized Assessment Tool: In May 2009, Rapides Parish juvenile justice officials, in collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change initiative, developed a service referral matrix based on the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) with a goal of reducing disproportionate probation revocations. The matrix outlines all of the options available to address a youth’s needs in various domains, including mental health, family relationships, and peers. Probation officers use the matrix to ensure that they connect youth with every available resource in their community. Additionally, the parish now requires that a supervisor and two additional probation officers review and approve revocation requests before they move forward. As a result of the changes, probation revocations dropped 61 percent from 2010 to 2011, including a 60 percent decrease for African American boys and a 50 percent decrease for African American girls.
      • Maryland — Baltimore’s Pre-Adjudication Coordination and Transition Center Wins National Award for Best Practices for DMC Reduction: In November 2009, the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention recognized Baltimore’s Pre-Adjudication Coordination and Transition Center (PACT Center) with its 2009 Best Practices Award for DMC reduction. The PACT Center stemmed from the recommendations of the city’s DMC Advisory Board, which highlighted the need for additional community-based alternatives to secure detention. The program focuses on those youth who would otherwise be detained because of a lack of success in less intensive alternatives to detention. Located in West Baltimore, the program provides support services to youth to ensure that they attend scheduled court hearings, avoid re-arrest, and appear in court with a comprehensive needs assessment and individualized plan that identifies community resources to help prevent future delinquency. A University of Maryland evaluation indicated that of the more than 400 youth served by the program from July 2007 to March 2010, 98 percent appeared for their scheduled court hearings and 92 percent did not reoffend while participating in the program, with 99 percent of the total youth served being African American.
      • Minnesota — Juvenile Justice Data Collection Bill Addresses Racial and Ethnic Disparities: A new Minnesota law aims to address racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system and mandates that a study group produce a plan to determine how to best collect data on race, ethnicity, gender, geography, and offenses in the juvenile justice system. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs submitted a report on behalf of the study group in February 2010 on strategies to improve Minnesota’s juvenile justice data collection and analysis. The detailed report examines various decision points in the system, including those related to law enforcement, county attorneys, juvenile courts, juvenile probation, and detention and residential facilities. The report’s recommendations focus on dissemination of available juvenile justice data, assessment of the accuracy of current data, mapping of diversion resources, implementation of statewide race and ethnicity data collection standards, and creation of a statewide central data repository. H.F. 702/Ch. 132, signed into law May 21, 2009; effective July 1, 2009.
      • Oregon — Portland Public School District Adopts Policy that Requires Monitoring and Reduction of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in School Discipline: In June 2009, Oregon’s largest urban school district, Portland Public Schools, established a new policy and committed to pilot projects in 10 schools to reduce the use of suspension and expulsion and, in particular, to reduce racial disparities in school discipline. The policy acknowledges the link between student achievement and discipline practices and states its interest in eliminating disparities in applying discipline. The policy also states that “discipline should start at the lowest possible level reasonably calculated to change the student’s behavior and to minimize the loss of instructional time” and explicitly discourages discipline practices that exclude youth from class.
      • Pennsylvania — Berks County Reduces Detained Population and Disproportionate Detention of Youth of Color: Thanks in part to Berks County’s work with the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change DMC Action Network, the county has reduced the disproportionate detention and residential placement of Latino and African American youth. Daily, there are now five fewer African American youth and 22 fewer Latino youth in county detention centers. These improvements come as part of an overall reduction in the average daily detention population, which is now only 15 to 20 youth, compared with a high of 54 youth per day in one quarter of 2007, a 65 percent reduction. The average length of stay in detention is also down, from 25 to 15 days; and out-of-home placements have been cut from 339 to 123 per year, creating a savings of over $2 million. The reduction in the detention population allowed the county to permanently remove 24 beds from the facility, making space for the expansion of a non-secure job-readiness program and an expanded shelter. Berks County accomplished these reductions by analyzing data from key decision points, implementing a detention assessment instrument, creating an evening reporting center, expanding the availability of shelter beds, and making use of alternatives to out-of-home placements. As a result of Berks County’s success, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency created funding for five additional counties to develop evening reporting centers and required that those counties implement detention assessment instruments as a condition of the funding.
      • Wisconsin — Rock County Uses Assessment Tool to Reduce Confinement of Youth of Color: In September 2010, Rock County, Wisconsin finalized a policy incorporating use of the Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI) for every youth entering the juvenile justice system. Through the use of the YASI and other reforms adopted during the county’s participation in the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change DMC Action Network, such as implementation of graduated responses to probation, placements of youth in state correctional facilities have dropped 88 percent since 2007, and detention of youth of color for probation violations has declined. The YASI helps build upon youths’ strengths and better match their needs with evidence-based resources.

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Photo: Sepehr Ehsani, under Creative Commons License