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"To guide and give greater momentum to recent calls for reform, this report examines a key driving force of criminal justice outcomes: racial perceptions of crime. A complex set of factors contributes to the severity and selectivity of punishment in the United States, including public concern about crime and racial differences in crime rates. This report synthesizes two decades of research establishing that skewed racial perceptions of crime – particularly, white Americans’ strong associations of crime with racial minorities – have bolstered harsh and biased criminal justice policies" (p. 3). Eight sections follow an executive summary: introduction; public support for punitive policies—historical changes in punitive sentiment, and the racial gaps in punitiveness and victimization; racial perceptions of crime—overestimating Black and Hispanic crime rates, and implicit biases against people of color; racial perceptions of crime linked to punitiveness; sources of racial perceptions of crime; punitiveness linked to other racial gaps in views and experiences—Whites' limited and favorable criminal justice contact, racial prejudice, and individualistic accounts of crime; consequences of a biased and punitive criminal justice system—eroded perceived legitimacy, and undermining public safety; and remedies and recommendations for the media and researchers, policymakers, and practitioners and other stakeholders.

Race and Punishment: Racial Perceptions of Crime and Support for Punitive Policies Cover

This article examines the confluence of mental health needs and racial disparities within the juvenile justice system.

Step into juvenile delinquency courts throughout the country, and you will usually find the number of children of color who appear there are far out of proportion to their numbers in the surrounding community. For decades, they have been over-represented (and treated more harshly for the same behavior as their non-Hispanic white counterparts) at every stage of the delinquency process – from arrest, to secure detention, confinement, and transfer to the adult system. The causes are varied and have often proved resistant to change. However, in recent years, better data collection and analysis in many localities has helped spur the development of strategies to reduce disparities among youth in contact with the juvenile justice system. This work is paving the way for a more equitable juvenile justice system that will treat youth fairly regardless of their race or ethnicity. The Racial-Ethnic Fairness section of the Resource Hub will provide you with an overview of salient issues and links to information on each approach, as well as the most recent research, cutting edge reforms, model policies, best practices, links to experts, and toolkits to take action.

Boys and young men of color are overrepresented in all aspects of the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems, at considerable cost to those involved, their families, and their communities. This overrepresentation is most acute for African Americans, although other communities of color are also affected. This paper reviews systemic, institutional, and community policies and practices that greatly impact the life chances of boys and young men of color (website).

This publication covers: the period of first contact and youth of color; the clash over family structure with Northern tribes; Black child during the early settlement period; the industrial Age and youth of color; detention centers for youth are created, excluding Blacks; parens patriae arrives; John Augustus and alternatives to incarceration; the antebellum South and Black children; tribal families and boarding schools; the juvenile court era and youth of color; Latinos and youth justice; school discipline, youth justice, and youth of color; and equity as the preferred strategy.

“This report chronicles the racial disparity that permeates every stage of the United States criminal justice system, from arrest to trial to sentencing. In particular, the report highlights the influence of implicit racial bias and recounts the findings of the burgeoning scholarship on the role of such bias in the criminal justice system” (p. 2). Sections cover: racial disparity in police activity; racial disparity in trials—indigent defense counsel, prosecution, and juries, trial judges, and presumptions of innocence; racial disparity in sentencing—capital punishment, and the “War on Drugs”; closing the courthouse door—discretion, racial bias, and the Supreme Court; and ten recommendations for reducing racial bias in the criminal justice system.

Report of The Sentencing Project to the United Nations Human Rights Committee: Regarding Racial Disparities in the United States Criminal Justice System Cover

One way to unwind mass incarceration without compromising public safety is to use risk assessment instruments in sentencing and corrections. Although these instruments figure prominently in current reforms, critics argue that benefits in crime control will be offset by an adverse effect on racial minorities … we examine the relationships among race, risk assessment (the Post Conviction Risk Assessment [PCRA]), and future arrest.

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“Child maltreatment is a pervasive social problem affecting millions of children and their families every year. While past research has documented the short and long-term deleterious outcomes of abused and neglected children, variations in outcomes based on type of maltreatment, race/ethnicity, and gender are not well understood. This study explored the interrelationships of these variables on youths’ school engagement and juvenile criminal offending in a large, diverse sample followed prospectively from the time of maltreatment until youths’ sixteenth birthday” (p. 2). Results are provided for: school engagement—truancy for females, truancy for males, academic credits for females, academic credits for males, suspension and expulsions for females, and suspensions and expulsions for males; juvenile crime—misdemeanors by females, misdemeanors by males, felonies by females, felonies by males, violent felonies by females, and violent felonies by males. It appears that American Indian, Black, and Hispanic youth tend to have poorer outcomes that Asian and White boys and girls.

School Engagement and Juvenile Offending Among Maltreated Youth Who Vary by Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Type of Child Maltreatment Cover

This webpage provides a wealth of links to resources related to Native Americans and corrections. Resources range from publications which include various reports and statistics, links to related organizations, and links to grant programs.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) provide the latest answers to commonly asked questions about Hispanic youth in the juvenile justice system. Answers are organized into the following areas: Hispanic youth population; arrests involving Hispanic youth; and delinquency cases involving Hispanic youth.


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