Racial and Ethnic Disparities Drag Down Youth Justice Reform
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Profound racial and ethnic disparities in youth incarceration define the American juvenile justice system. New publications released today by The Sentencing Project detail the scope of the problem and should raise alarms among policymakers and advocates committed to racial justice.
The Sentencing Project’s new fact sheets show state-by-state incarceration rates by race and ethnicity and highlight where the problem is getting worse and better.
Black Disparities in Youth Incarceration:
- Black youth are more than four times as likely as their white peers to be held in juvenile facilities, a modest improvement since 2015’s all-time high.
- In New Jersey, Black youth are more than 17 times as likely to be incarcerated than their white peers.
Latinx Disparities in Youth Incarceration:
- Latinx youth are 28 percent more likely to be incarcerated than their white peers, a sharp improvement over the course of the decade.
- In Massachusetts, Latinx youth are five times more likely to be incarcerated than their white peers.
Tribal Disparities in Youth Incarceration:
- Tribal youth’s disparities have grown worse over the course of the decade, and they are now more than three times as likely to be incarcerated than their white peers.
- In Minnesota, Tribal youth are 12 times more likely to be incarcerated than their white peers.
“These new data should serve as a wake up call about the scope of racial and ethnic disparities in our youth detention centers and prisons,” according to Josh Rovner, Senior Advocacy Associate at The Sentencing Project and the author of the new publications. “Though there has been some modest and promising improvement in many places, it is not sufficient.”
The Sentencing Project has long recommended the use of racial impact statements to divulge the source of disparities such as these. To overcome them, states and localities must invest heavily in community programs that address inequality at all stages of life, with particular focus on accommodating the needs of children of color.
Click below to read each fact sheet:
- Black Disparities in Youth Incarceration
- Latinx Disparities in Youth Incarceration
- Tribal Disparities in Youth Incarceration
ABOUT THE SENTENCING PROJECT
The Sentencing Project promotes effective and humane responses to crime that minimize imprisonment and criminalization of youth and adults by promoting racial, ethnic, economic, and gender justice.
Our policy priorities envision the full inclusion in society of people with criminal records and an end to extreme punishments. Our aim is to center the leadership, voices, vision, and experience of those directly affected by mass incarceration to make the rationale for systemic change vivid, credible and compelling.