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Joshua Rovner

"A major reduction has taken place in the number of teenagers committed to juvenile facilities in this century. At a time of increasing calls to cut the number of incarcerated adults by 50 percent over 10 years, the juvenile justice system has already attained this goal. Moreover, the decline has taken place without harming public safety" (p. 1). Information provided in this report includes: "Figure 1. Juvenile Facilities and Placements, 1997-2013"; "Table 1. Juvenile Commitment Changes by State, 2001-2013"; "Table 2. Juvenile Commitment Rates by State, 2013"; "Figure 2. Youth Commitment Changes by State, 2001-2013"; "Figure 3. Youth Commitment Rate per 100,000 by State, 2013"; racial and ethnic disparities; "Table 3. Black/White Commitment Rates per 100,000 Juveniles, 2011"; one in three juvenile facilities have closed since 2002; "Figure 4. Number of Juvenile Offenders by Size of Facility, 1997-2013"; "Figure 5. Percent of Juvenile Offenders by Size of Facility, 1997-2013"; and concluding remarks. "Reductions in juvenile offending combined with common-sense policy changes have led to large reductions in the number and percentages of teenagers in large state facilities and generally in confinement … Confinement should be used sparingly and briefly, and only as a last resort. For serious offenders, a successful program should be intensive and address teenaged aggression, focusing on rehabilitation to keep them in confinement only as long as they are a threat to public safety" (p. 6-7).

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"Despite positive trends regarding juvenile interactions with the justice system, racial disparities remain as a persistent problem. African-American youth comprise 17 percent of the population, but comprise 31 percent of all arrested youth. This briefing paper explains how disproportionate minority contact (DMC) with the juvenile justice system is measured and takes a close look at drug offenses, property crimes, and status offenses. Racial disparities weaken the credibility of a justice system that purports to treat everyone equally." Sections cover: what "contact" is; the extent of the problem; measuring DMC using the Relative Rate Index (RRI); encounters with the justice system—disproportionate arrest rates for status offenders, property crime arrests, and drug offenses; how policy choices worsen disparities—school discipline as a law enforcement issue, valid court order (VCO), and geography and population density; disproportionate minority confinement—RRI for pre- and post-adjudication detention and placement; and eliminating disproportionate minority contact by reauthorizing and strengthening the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).

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