The following is excerpted from the EXECUTIVE SUMMARY of a report submitted to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute by Chrystal A. Garcia, PhD and G. Roger Jarjoura, PhD, Associate Professors of Criminal Justice, Law and Public Safety, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis and Kathy Lisby, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Criminal Justice Research.
In1988, the United States Congress acknowledged a serious problem taking place in the country’s juvenile justice system—the skyrocketing numbers of African American youth ending up in state correctional populations. Congress’ response was to develop legislation that required states to collect data about “disproportionate minority confinement” in the juvenile justice system. This legislation was part of the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act (see 1988 reauthorization of the 1974 Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDP) [Public Law 93-415, 42 U.S.C. 5601 et seq]. Subsequent authorizations of the JJDP Act in 1992 (and later in 2002), re-defined the scope of data that was being collected. This altered the previous focus from disproportionate minority confinement to a more inclusive disproportionate minority contact (DMC).
In the fall of 2010, researchers from Indiana University’s Center for Criminal Justice Research and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI partnered with the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to conduct Indiana’s DMC study.
Indiana’s DMC study examined data from more than 205,000 juvenile cases from each of the 92 counties. The researchers examined information about what happens to a juvenile at specific points in the juvenile justice process that have been determined to be key in the outcome of a case.
Those key decision points are:
- juvenile referral
- petition filed
- found delinquent
- secure confinement
- waiver to criminal court—where court orders waiver
- motion for waiver filed—where prosecutor seeks waiver to criminal court
- direct file—instances where the person is under 18 years of age but the court does not have juvenile jurisdiction so the defendant is charged as an adult
The study collected data on all but the arrest decision points. In the spring of 2012 the IU Center for Criminal Justice, on behalf of the ICJI, completed the report.
Following are the key findings related to the DMC data:
a. Referrals to Court
1. The strongest differences were found in the referrals to court. African-American juveniles are 3.23 times more likely than white juveniles to be referred to juvenile court.
2. Hispanic juveniles are also 1.14 times more likely to be referred to juvenile court than white juveniles.
3. The “All Minorities” category (which includes all racial/ethnic groups other than white) demonstrates that minority youth in the state are 2.46 times more likely to be referred to juvenile court than their white counterparts.
b. Detention prior to Adjudication
1. African-American juveniles are 1.65 times more likely to be detained prior to adjudication than white juveniles.
2. Hispanic juveniles are 1.28 times more likely to be detained prior to adjudication than white juveniles.
c. Delinquency Petitions Filed
1. African-American juveniles are 1.08 times more likely to have a delinquency petition filed against them than white juveniles.
2. Hispanic juveniles are 1.07 times more likely to have a delinquency petition filed against them than white juveniles.
d. Commitment to Indiana Department of Correction
African-American juveniles are 1.36 times more likely to be sentenced to confinement in a secure juvenile correctional facility than white juveniles.
e. Each Decision Point was Significant for the “All Minorities” in 2009
1. What this says in essence is that youth of color in Indiana in 2009 were significantly more likely to be referred to the juvenile court, more likely to be held in secure detention prior to adjudication, more likely to have a delinquency petition filed against them, and more likely to be committed to the Indiana Department of Correction than their white peers.
2. Minority youth were also significantly less likely to receive a diversion and less likely to be given a probation disposition than their white counterparts.
f. The over-representation of African Americans and Hispanics
1. The over-representation of both groups at referral, detention, petition, adjudication, and commitments to state correctional facilities, as well as their under-representation at diversion and probation, was not surprising as these findings mirror previous DMC research in other states.
2. What was unexpected was the under-representation of both African-American and Hispanic youth at adjudication and waiver stages. The researchers indicated that they could not easily explain why this is the case; however, a more definitive answer should become more apparent when the 2005-2008 data are analyzed.
It is important to note that this study was not charged with determining why youth of color are facing disparate outcomes across the various regions in the state.
The researchers also made findings regarding the data collection and reporting system and recommended a statewide policy that requires courts and probation departments to collect demographic information at the key decision points.
The DMC Report, along with others completed on behalf of the ICJI, served as a springboard for most of the racial disparity and DMC work currently underway in Indiana. Since the publication of this report, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) and the Division of State Court Administration (Division), with guidance from the Judicial Center and Judicial Conference Committees, are developing an application that will enable courts and probation departments to collect and report this important data. Indiana’s courts use four different digital juvenile case management systems. The Division is developing a way to retrieve data from each of these systems and to generate reports regarding the key decision points. An article in this issue of Court Times by LaJuan Epperson and Lisa Thompson titled “Using INcite to Collect & Connect Juvenile Data” discusses this initiative in more detail.