Disproportionality in Juvenile Justice Diversion: An Examination of Teen Court Peer-Derived Consequences [2019]

Juvenile justice diversion programs, such as Teen Court (TC), represent an alternative to traditional juvenile justice responses to youth misbehavior and delinquency. However, although TC represents a potential strategy to address disproportionate minority contact, there is a dearth of research examining the extent to which TC programs are racially equitable. To address this gap, the current study examines racial disproportionality in a TC program in Arizona. Results indicated that in a diverse sample of youths involved in a TC program in Arizona, youths who identified as Latinx or American Indian were more likely to receive a severe consequence from the peer jury compared with their non-Latinx, white counterparts. Multiracial youths were less likely to receive a severe consequence compared with white youths. A hierarchical regression model indicated that offense-related variables explained the largest proportion of variance in number of consequence hours assigned. However, disparities for Latinx and American Indian youths compared with non-Latinx, white youths persisted after controlling for other demographics, type of offense, prior offenses, and additional charges. The results of the current study are the first to document racial disparity in the TC process.

Katie Cotter Stalker
Social Work Research, Volume 43, Issue 4, December 2019
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