Disparities in the Criminal Justice System

Study Finds Youth from Disadvantaged Communities Are More Likely to be Incarcerated

Source: Black Youth Project

A study released in May 2013 found that black and Latino youth were more likely than white youth to be institutionalized. Furthermore, youth from economically disadvantaged areas were more likely to be detained than youth from more affluent areas. The study found court officials’ perceptions of what it means to come from a disadvantaged community affected their decisions on whether youth should be incarcerated or should remain in the community. They perceived disadvantaged areas to be dangerous and high risk for youth, and consequently saw correctional detainment as a way to “help” their vulnerable state.

These findings have significant policy implications. Long periods of institutional confinement can lead to disruption in school, damaged family relationships, and increased chances of reoffending. Juvenile court officials need to ensure they do not treat youth from disadvantaged communities more harshly simply because they face economic burdens.

Rodriguez, N. (2013). Concentrated Disadvantage and the Incarceration of Youth: Examining How Context Affects Juvenile Justice. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 50(2), 189-215. 

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