Influence of Race in the Deep End of the Juvenile Justice System

Racial inequalities pervade U.S. justice systems and are the focus of a growing body of research. However, there are fewer studies on racial disparities in juvenile justice settings, particularly on decisions points at the “deep end” of the system after youth have been adjudicated delinquent. The current study examines racial disparities in length of stay, institutional misconduct, and community program placement for youth admitted to the Virginia juvenile justice system from 2012–2017. We find that black youth have significantly longer lengths of stay and more serious institutional misconduct than white youth. Controlling for legal and extralegal factors eliminates the disparity for length of stay, but it remains significant for serious institutional misconduct. In recent years, youth of all races are placed into community programs rather than traditional correctional centers at similar rates. Disparities for Hispanic youth and other races are difficult to distinguish because few are admitted to the system.

Ashlin Oglesby-Neal, Bryce Peterson
Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, September 16, 2020