Disproportionate Experiences in Custody? An Examination of Minority Youths’ Outcomes in Secure Facilities [2019]

While a significant amount of literature has emphasized the identification and explanation of disproportionate minority contact (DMC) in the juvenile justice system, less research has examined racial disparities in postdisposition outcomes. This study seeks to address this gap through its examination of the experiences of youths in custody. Specifically, using a stratified, random subsample of 1514 youths confined in secure confinement facilities between 2010 and 2014 in one Midwestern state, this article explores whether youths’ race impacts in-facility outcomes, such as number of disciplinary infractions, time spent in seclusion, length of stay, and access to educational services, when case-level predictors are accounted for. Findings suggest that race has an inconsistent relationship with the outcomes experienced by youths in custody. However, significant mediating effects of disciplinary infractions on relationships between race and other outcomes appear to have significant implications for non-White youths in custody. Considering these findings, policy recommendations are discussed.

Derek J. Mueller, Christopher J. Sullivan & Hannah D. McManus
Justice Quarterly, 15 Jan 2019