8

Reducing Racial/Ethnic Disparities

A decade ago the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine report Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice pointed out that there were “major disparities in the extent of involvement of minority youth, particularly black youth, compared with white youth in the juvenile justice system” (2001, p. 228). A number of assessments over the ensuing decade continued to document this overrepresentation of minority youth, especially African Americans, in the juvenile justice system (Engen, Steen, and Bridges, 2002; Bishop, 2005; Lauritsen, 2005; Bishop and Leiber, 2012). Such overrepresentation immediately raises at least two types of concerns. First, this circumstance raises questions of bias, fairness, and legitimacy regarding the functioning of the justice system. Second, it raises questions about the larger life-course trajectories of many youth in minority communities who may become marked by criminal records early in life.

In part for these reasons, the question of disproportionate minority involvement has been an explicit federal policy priority. Congress first gave attention to racial disparities in 1988 when it amended the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) of 1974 (P.L. 93-415, 42 U.S.C. 5601 et seq.) to require states that received formula funds from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to ascertain the proportion of minority youth detained in secure detention facilities, secure correctional facilities, and lockups compared with the general population and, if the number of minority youth was disproportionate, to develop and implement plans to reduce the disproportionate representation (Section 223(a)(23)). In 1992, the JJDPA was amended. Disproportionate minority confinement was made a core requirement, and 25 percent of a state’s for-



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8 Reducing Racial/Ethnic Disparities A decade ago the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine report Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice pointed out that there were “major disparities in the extent of involvement of minority youth, particularly black youth, compared with white youth in the juvenile justice system” (2001, p. 228). A number of assessments over the ensuing decade continued to document this overrepresentation of minority youth, especially African Americans, in the juvenile justice system (Engen, Steen, and Bridges, 2002; Bishop, 2005; Lauritsen, 2005; Bishop and Leiber, 2012). Such overrep- resentation immediately raises at least two types of concerns. First, this circumstance raises questions of bias, fairness, and legitimacy regarding the functioning of the justice system. Second, it raises questions about the larger life-course trajectories of many youth in minority communities who ­ may become marked by criminal records early in life. In part for these reasons, the question of disproportionate minority involvement has been an explicit federal policy priority. Congress first gave attention to racial disparities in 1988 when it amended the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) of 1974 (P.L. 93-415, 42 U.S.C. 5601 et seq.) to require states that received formula funds from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to ascertain the proportion of minority youth detained in secure detention facilities, secure correctional facilities, and lockups compared with the general population and, if the number of minority youth was disproportionate, to develop and implement plans to reduce the disproportionate representation (Section 223(a)(23)). In 1992, the JJDPA was amended. Disproportionate minority confinement was made a core requirement, and 25 percent of a state’s for- 211

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212 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE mula funds could be withheld if states did not comply. In 2002, Congress again modified the disproportionate minority confinement requirement and mandated states to implement juvenile delinquency prevention efforts and system improvement efforts designed to reduce, without establishing or requiring numerical standards or quotas, the disproportionate number of juvenile members of minority groups who come into contact with the juve- nile justice system (P.L. 107-273, Sec. 12209). Thus, the disproportionate minority contact (DMC) core requirement was broadened from “confine- ment” to “contact,” and states were required to implement strategies aimed at reducing disproportionality (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2009a). See Chapter 10 for a detailed description of OJJDP’s DMC activities. Public and scholarly discussions about race/ethnic inequities and the role they play in the genesis of antisocial and criminal behavior and in shaping societal responses have a very long history (Hawkins and Kempf-­ eonard, L 2005, p. 3). Given the long-standing discussions over race/­ thnicity in the e United States more generally (National Research Council, 2001a), it is not surprising that discussions oriented around race/ethnicity1 and crime are among the most contentious of all (Sampson and Wilson, 1995; Kennedy, 2001; Peterson and Krivo, 2009). Despite a research and policy focus on this matter for more than two decades, remarkably little progress has been made on reducing the dispari- ties themselves or in reaching scholarly consensus on the root source of these disparities (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2001). Volumes of data documenting disparities have been collected, but comparatively little progress has been made in addressing the problem (Kempf-Leonard, 2007; Piquero, 2008a; Bishop and Leiber, 2012). Thus, one assessment (Bell and Ridolfi, 2008, p. 15) observed with considerable irony: There’s been a lot of motion but little movement in the last two decades. This inherited culture of the lowest common denominator in disparities 1  Throughout this chapter and throughout the report, we have chosen to link race/ethnicity together because their definitions are often overlapping. The Office of Management and Budget recognizes a minimum of five racial categories: white, black (or African American), American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. It also recognizes at least two ethnicities: Hispanic or Latino and non-Hispanic or Latino. People who identify themselves as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish can be of any race. These racial/ethnic categories were also included in the 2010 decennial census. But an analysis of census data had this to say about the racial groupings: “The race categories included in the census questionnaire generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country and are not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically. In addition, it is recognized that the categories of the race question include race and national origin or sociocultural groups” (Humes, Jones, and Ramirez, 2011, p. 2).

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REDUCING RACIAL/ETHNIC DISPARITIES 213 reduction has resulted in a class of decision makers who could have sig- nificant impact on racial and ethnic disparities, but are unmotivated to do so. Instead, they make-up a multi-million dollar cottage industry whose primary activity is to restate the problem of disparities, in essence, end- lessly adoring the question of what to do about DMC, but never reaching an answer. Several reasons can be identified as a means of understanding the lack of movement on this issue, including, but not limited to, lack of motivation, lack of cross-system collaboration, inadequate resources, and the extreme difficulties of disentangling the many complex, multilevel and interrelated factors that contribute to this problem (Kempf-Leonard, 2007; Bell and Ridolfi, 2008; Bell et al., 2009; Nellis and Richardson, 2010; Parsons- Pollard, 2011). Some observers have suggested that lack of progress may be related to the deeper continuing problem of racial injustice in American society. The current period has been characterized as a time of “laissez-faire racism,” in which a “more covert, sophisticated, cultured-centered and subtle racist ideology, qualitatively less extreme and more socially perme- able than Jim Crow racism,” is influencing American culture and politics (Bobo, 2011, p. 15). Whatever the reason, a discomfort in discussing race and racial inequities noted by the National Academies a decade ago does not appear to have changed significantly (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2001, p. viii). In effect, racial disproportionality (and race generally) has become the elephant in the room: most people concede that racial disparities pose a huge problem but are reluctant to candidly discuss their underlying causes and possible remedies. Several thorough reviews of the literature on racial/ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system have been published (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2001; Pope et al., 2002; Leiber, 2003; Bishop, 2005; Hawkins and Kempf-Leonard, 2005; Piquero, 2008a; Bishop and Leiber, 2012). Instead of presenting another detailed review, this chapter briefly summarizes the problem, reviews the two main frameworks that have been used to understand and explain the problem (differential offend- ing and differential selection), and then addresses a variety of factors that may contribute to both offending and the juvenile system’s response to it. DEFINITIONS The conceptual and definitional challenges associated with racial/ethnic differences in general (National Research Council, 2001a) are evident in the context of juvenile and criminal justice. The terms oft-associated with DMC are “disproportionate representation” (or disparity) and “discrimination”

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214 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE (or bias).2 On one hand, disproportionate (minority) representation, or disproportionality, occurs when a minority group (historically the research has centered on black youth) comprises a far greater percentage of persons in the juvenile justice system than their numbers in the general population would predict. According to Bishop (2005, pp. 24-25), disparity is used to denote between-group differences in outcomes, irrespective of their origins. (Disparity might stem from differences in offending, from laws or policies that differentially impact minority youth, or from racism in the juvenile justice system.) If defined in this neutral way, the committee regards “dis- proportionate representation” and “disparity” as interchangeable terms. On the other hand, discrimination refers to “situations in which evidence suggests that extralegal or illegitimate factors are the cause of disparate justice system outcomes” (National Research Council, 2001, pp. 230-231; for other variants, see Walker et al., 2000, pp. 14-18). Definitions take one only so far, however, and there are important distinctions to consider. For example, disparity, particularly large and per- sistent disparity, is often interpreted as indicative of unfair or illegitimate processes at work. It is critical analytically to stress that not all statistical disproportion is an immediate indicator of bias or discrimination. However, particularly in the domain of juvenile justice and when matters of race/ ethnicity are concerned, persistent disparity should be taken as a strong signal that some underlying problematic circumstance and process are operating, whether or not direct race bias is the cause. Taking this concept one step further, when there is evidence that racial disparities are systematic and intentional, then they can be considered racial inequities (Chapin Hall Center for Children, 2009).3 MINORITY YOUTH INVOLVEMENT IN THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM Researchers typically draw on three possible sources of data to gauge the extent of minority4 youth involvement in crime and delinquency: official 2  The term “disproportionate minority contact” is used to describe the disproportionate number of minority youth at various stages of processing in the juvenile justice system (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2009a, 2009b). Throughout the report, we use “racial disparities” to refer to racial/ ethnic disparities more generally and use DMC when it is common usage, for example, associated with OJJDP’s core requirement or in a program initiative by the government or other organization, such as the MacArthur Foundation’s Model for Change DMC Action Network. 3  very helpful graphic presentation of the relationship of disproportionality, disparities, and A factors leading to disparity, can be found in Chapin Hall Center for Children (2009, p. 32). 4  The term “minority” is not being used as a proxy for black or African American but is used when the term applies to minorities more broadly. The term “black or African American” is used when the statement applies specifically to that racial group.

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REDUCING RACIAL/ETHNIC DISPARITIES 215 statistics on arrests, criminal victimization surveys of the population, and self-report surveys and questionnaires administered to youth. Each poten- tial source of data has limitations. Official Records We begin with a consideration of official statistics on juvenile arrests based on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR). (See Chapter 3 for a discussion of juvenile crime arrest data.) Table 8-1 reports official arrest results for people under age 18 by race for the year 2009, the most recent period for which these data were available to the committee. These results show disproportionate black arrests in most categories of offenses. The overrepresentation of black youth is greatest for violent crimes, particularly for homicide and manslaughter and for robbery. For homicide and manslaughter, black youth represent 58 percent of those arrested in 2009, although only 16 percent of youth under age 18 are in this age category. Similarly, blacks constitute 67 percent of those arrested for robbery. Disproportionate arrests remain the pattern for black youth in most of the property crime offenses, although the extent of overrepresentation relative to their share of the total youth population is smaller. Thus, black youth constituted 37 percent of burglary arrests and 43 percent of motor vehicle thefts though only 16 percent of all youth. These percentages are half the extent of overrepresentation seen in some of the violent crime data. Two further points are worthy of note. The one category in which black youth are underrepresented relative to their share of all youth is that of alcohol violations (6 percent of arrests). This is also the one type of offense for which white youth tend to be overrepresented. In addition, the degree of black overrepresentation is at its lowest in the category of drug abuse violations, in which blacks make up roughly 26 percent of youth arrests. These data consistently show that there are important differences by race in rates of arrest—especially across offense type, with black youth arrested for violent index crimes at much higher rates than whites (Bishop, 2005; Bales and Piquero, 2012). These disparities tend to be smaller (but tend to persist) for property crime rates, with white rates being higher, on average, for other offenses, such as vandalism and offenses involving alcohol. The UCR does not produce data for offending rates across eth- nic groups so, as a result, there is no official national arrest information relating to Hispanics—thus similar comparisons cannot be made between Hispanics and other racial/ethnic groups. Turning to the postarrest official data, blacks have higher rates than whites for ensuing juvenile and criminal justice decision stages, such as being referred to court, detained, formally

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216 TABLE 8-1 Arrest of People Under 18 Years of Age by Offense Charged and Race, 2009 American Indian Asian or White Black or Alaskan Native Pacific Islander Total Population Under 18 57,563,627 (77.2) 12,045,688 (16.2) 1,081,363 (1.5) 3,857,537 (5.2) 74,548,218 (100) Total Arrests 993,428 (65.9) 472,929 (31.3) 18,766 (1.2) 23,427 (1.6) 1,508,550 (100) Murder and nonnegligent 380 (40.4) 546 (58.0) 8 (0.9) 7 (0.7) 941 manslaughter Forcible rape 1,501 (63.4) 818 (34.5) 19 (0.8) 30 (1.3) 2,368 Robbery 7,854 (31.1) 16,968 (67.3) 112 (0.4) 292 (1.2) 25,226 Aggravated assault 21,790 (55.4) 16,694 (42.4) 394 (1.0) 463 (1.2) 39,341 Burglary 36,073 (60.9) 22,082 (37.3) 511 (0.9) 571 (1.0) 59,237 Larceny/theft 164,701 (65.0) 80,670 (31.8) 3,148 (1.2) 4,948 (2.0) 253,467 Motor vehicle theft 8,454 (54.0) 6,765 (43.2) 234 (1.5) 213 (1.4) 15,664 Arson 3,222 (76.7) 865 (20.6) 56 (1.3) 60 (1.4) 4,203 Alcohol violations 98,113 (89.6) 6,946   (6.3) 3,105 (2.8) 1,343 (1.2) 109,507 Drug abuse violations 97,232 (72.4) 34,295 (25.6) 1,212 (0.9) 1,468 (1.1) 134,207 Weapons offenses 16,190 (60.7) 9,938 (37.3) 210 (0.8) 328 (1.2) 26,666 NOTE: Percentages in parentheses. SOURCE: Federal Bureau of Investigation (2010).

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REDUCING RACIAL/ETHNIC DISPARITIES 217 charged, adjudicated delinquent, and placed out of the home (Bishop, 2005). A second source of data is the Relative Rate Index (RRI), which was developed by OJJDP in order to measure disparity at each decision point in the system: arrest, court referral, diversion, detention, petitions/charge filing, transfer to adult court, delinquency findings, probation, and secure confinement.5 Table 8-2 breaks down these processing stages by race. RRI data can be easily calculated on the basis of readily available data main- tained by some states. Feyerherm (2011) recently examined RRI data from OJJDP’s DMC website that included information from 1,043 jurisdictions (47 states and 996 substate jurisdictions, mainly counties). Based on these data, one is able to ascertain patterns among Hispanic youth and com- pare them to black and white youth. For example, RRI data suggest that H ­ ispanic youth experience greater contact with the juvenile justice system than do white youth and that the extent of these differences (disparities) is not as great as those experienced in general by black youth (Feyerherm, 2011, p. 46). These official records generate useful information, but they also suffer from some notable limitations (see Chapter 3). For example, official data and associated record-keeping systems are complex and not wholly inte- grated or infallible. For example, processing data may not be integrated with data from other child-serving systems with which the youth may have had contact or from which he or she may have been referred. Moreover, official records are contingent on the justice system responding to some action or call for service. Thus, official records do not include a large amount of criminal behavior that goes undetected and does not come to the attention of the formal justice system. Also as indicated above, the UCR data collection system treats race/ethnicity as two distinct characteristics and does not provide a means for identifying non-Hispanic and Hispanic members of different racial groups (Feyerherm, 2011, p. 46). This not only leads to difficulty in comparing arrest trends but also obfuscates the RRI because “arrest numbers cannot easily be traced into the juvenile justice system to follow the cumulative impacts of arrest, referral, detention, etc.” (Feyerherm, 2011, p. 47). An additional problem with the RRI calculations is that they do not come with any sort of statistical significance measure; thus, there is no way to measure whether an RRI of 1.0 is statistically significant—much 5  Specifically, the RRI consists of three components: (1) a system map describing the major contact points or stages at which a juvenile may have additional contact or penetration into the justice system, (2) a method for computing rates of activity (by race/ethnicity) at each of the stages, and (3) a method to compare the rates of contact for different demographic groups at each of those stages (Feyerherm, Snyder, and Villarruel, 2009; Feyerherm, 2011, p. 37).

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TABLE 8-2 The Processing of Juveniles by Race, 2008 218 American Indian or Asian or White Black Alaskan Native Pacific Islander Total Population Ages 10-17 25,251,300 (77.4) 5,437,700 (16.5) 455,700 (1.4) 1,549,000 (4.7) 32,963,700 (100) Arrested 1,246,900 (66.7) 574,600 (30.8) 21,900 (1.2) 26,200 (1.3) 1,868,600  Arrest rate per 100,000 in population   4,886 10,567 4,806 1,637    Relative risk black:white = 2.1:1 Referred to Courts 1,043,600 (63.1) 563,500 (34.1) 23,500 (1.4) 22,700 (1.4) 1,653,300  Referral rate per 100,000 in population   4,089 10,363 5,157 1,465    Relative risk black:white = 2.5:1 Detained   194,100 (55.8) 143,300 (41.2) 5,300 (1.5) 5,100 (1.5) 347,800  Detention rate per 100,000 in population    761 2,635 1,163 329    Relative risk black:white = 3.5:1 Formally Charged   554,800 (60.0) 342,000 (37.0) 14,400 (1.6) 13,200 (1.4) 924,400  Petition rate per 100,000 in population   2,174 6,289 3,160 852    Relative risk black:white = 2.9:1 Adjudicated Delinquent   350,900 (62.2) 194,900 (34.6) 10,100 (1.8) 8,000 (1.4) 563,900  Adjudication rate per 100,000 in population   1,375 3,584 2,216 516    Relative risk black:white = 2.6:1 Placed Out of Home    91,000 (57.7) 61,500 (39.0) 3,200 (2.0) 2,000 (1.3) 157,700  Placement rate per 100,000 in population    357 1,131 702 129    Relative risk black:white = 3.2:1 NOTE: Percentages in parentheses. SOURCE: Puzzanchera and Adams (2011a).

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REDUCING RACIAL/ETHNIC DISPARITIES 219 less whether an RRI of 1.38 is significantly different from an RRI of 2.53. As a result, these sorts of official statistics provide limited leverage on the larger question of disproportionate minority youth contact with the juvenile justice system. Self-Report and Victimization Data Other sources of racial/ethnic disparities emerge from data on offend- ing patterns. Lauritsen’s (2005) review of this line of work was based on victim reports from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and a series of self-report surveys that gathered individual-level reports of offending. The analysis showed that “the most commonly occurring crimes exhibited few group differences, while more rare and serious crimes of violence showed generally higher levels of black and Latino involvement” (Lauritsen, 2005, p. 99). Thus, the salient message from Lauritsen’s review is that data on youth violence are comparable across reporting sources because the same general patterns have emerged for the most serious but least common offenses (Lauritsen, 2005, p. 100). At the same time, an important difference emerged in relation to drug abuse violations. Lauritsen (2005, p. 96) reports that black youth are disproportionately involved in such offenses as measured via official records, whereas self-report data indicate that white youth report higher levels of drug abuse violations. Similar to the Lauritsen study but using both UCR and self-report data sets, Piquero and Brame (2008) found little evidence of racial/ethnic differ- ences in either self-reported offending (either in the frequency of offending or in the variety of offending) or officially based arrests leading to a court referral in the year preceding study enrollment. Both victim and self-report data suffer from problems similar to those that plague official records. For example, the race/ethnicity of the offender may not be known in victim and self-report data. Furthermore, victim survey data are limited to the main race categories of black, white, and other. Self-report data suffer from both over- and underreporting, and these tendencies may vary across racial/ethnic groups. They are often col- lected from high school or general population samples, a practice that tends to limit reports of serious violence. Finally, there have been few comparisons of self-reports across racial/ethnic groups (Huizinga et al., 2007; Piquero and Brame, 2008), few data collection efforts focused on H ­ ispanics (Maldonado-Molina et al., 2009), and even fewer studies exam- ining the relationship of immigration status to offending (Lee, Martinez, and Rosenfeld, 2001; Nielsen, Lee, and Martinez, 2005; Bersani, 2012). ­ Research on the factors that might affect DMC at the police contact and court referral levels also has employed both official and self-report data with a common set of delinquency measures across data sources

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220 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE (on violence, property, weapons, and drug offenses). Huizinga and col- leagues (2007) used data from the three delinquency studies in Pittsburgh, P ­ ennsylvania; Rochester, New York; and Seattle, Washington, to examine DMC and the factors that might affect it at the police contact and court referral levels. First, in all three cities, African American youth had the highest rate of contact/referral, and it was significantly greater than for white youth. Hispanics in Rochester had a significantly higher rate than whites; in Seattle, Asian American youth had a slightly higher rate of contact/referral compared with whites. These results were replicated in overall crime fig- ures. Second, when the researchers examined race/ethnic differences in self- reported offending, they found that minority youth did exhibit higher self-reported offending than whites, but the differences were not so pro- nounced as they were with the official record data. In general, minority– white differences in the official record comparisons were roughly double what they were for the self-reported offending estimates. Thus, differences in self-reported offending were not able to completely eliminate the effects of race/ethnicity on official criminal records (Huizinga et al., 2007, p. 32). Third, Huizinga and colleagues examined the effect of race/ethnicity on contact/referral in the juvenile justice system after controlling for self- reported offending. Results from this analysis indicated that, across virtu- ally all comparisons, although controlling for self-reported offending was itself significantly associated with official contact, it did not eliminate (nor very much reduce) any direct effect for race/ethnicity. In sum, these results show that self-reported offending does not explain the differential rates of juvenile justice system contact by race/ethnicity.6 When a risk factor composite (e.g., socioeconomic status, family struc- ture, academic performance) was added to assess whether inclusion of this additional measure altered the significant race/ethnicity effect on official record representation, once again, with one exception (Pittsburgh), the results held: although both self-reported offending and the risk factor composite were significantly associated with disproportionate involvement as measured by official records, controlling for the risk factor composite did not affect the still-significant effect for race/ethnicity on official records (Huizinga et al. (2007). Similarly, Bersani (2012) used self-report data from the National Lon- gitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97) and official crime reports to 6  Only a few other studies have examined self-reported delinquency and subsequent juvenile justice processing (Huizinga and Elliott, 1987, in the National Youth Survey; Fergusson, Horwood, and Swain-Campbell, 2003, in Australia; and Piquero and Brame, 2008, in the Research on Pathways to Desistance study). Although these studies contain longitudinal data, the methodological approaches thus far have not made explicit use of the longitudinal data in order to examine the racial disparity question in a developmental manner.

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REDUCING RACIAL/ETHNIC DISPARITIES 221 conduct trajectory analyses that examined immigrant offending histories from early adolescence to young adulthood. Her findings showed that first- generation immigrants had lower rates of criminal involvement compared to native-born persons. In fact, violence and drug crimes were virtually non- existent among first-generation immigrants while second-generation immi- grants evinced offending patterns similar to native-born persons. These findings are consistent with those of other studies using other data sources that report a crime-suppression effect of immigrant concentration on crime rates even in areas marked by concentrated disadvantage (Lee et al., 2001; Nielsen et al., 2005; Sampson et al., 2005). Reviews of DMC Research A number of assessments over the years make it clear that minor- ity youth are disproportionately represented in the system. Several recent careful reviews, in particular, have found that “race matters” beyond the characteristics of an offense. One recent major assessment that took stock of 72 quantitative studies of DMC had three major results (Cohen et al., 2011). First, it found that the vast majority of studies (82 percent) found some race effect that disadvantaged minority youth relative to white youth. Second, the evidence for race effects was greatest at earlier stages of the process, particularly at the stages of arrest, referral to court, and place- ment in secure detention. Third, although black youth are most likely to be disadvantaged, this is not uniformly the case and similar patterns tend to emerge for Hispanic youth as well. Their review covered studies conducted in 2002-2010 on the official processing of minority youth at nine different decision points in the juvenile justice system (arrest, court referral, delinquency findings, detention, diver- sion, petition/charge filings, probation, secure confinement, and transfer to adult court). (Note: some decision points have been more intensively s ­tudied than others; i.e., arrest has been less thoroughly studied than the secure confinement decision and white-black disparities have been studied more often than others.) The analysis shows that the majority of reviewed studies indicated some race effects in the processing of minority youth, with the majority of those studies reporting mixed results (for some minor- ity youth or at some processing points but not others). Black males were more likely to receive harsh treatment than females or whites, and minority youth, on average, were more likely to receive harsh treatment for certain but not all offenses. At the same time, the analysis also indicates a lower race effect in formal court processing, adjudication, and postadjudication. In nearly all juvenile justice systems youth of color also remain in the system longer than white youth. From 2002 to 2004, although black youth accounted for approximately 17 percent of the youth population,

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230 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE Other Explanations for Differential Involvement As reflected in the discussion thus far, it remains difficult to appor- tion documented disparities to either differential offending or differential selection and to ascribe the role that bias plays. The research to date has not attempted to do that, given that the impact of either perspective is confounded by the effects of underlying social and cultural factors. In addition, researchers have identified other factors that may contrib- ute to differential juvenile justice outcomes that may not fit neatly into either of those perspectives or may be distinct from both. These include jurisdictional differences in the treatment of youth, such as case process- ing (Kempf-­ eonard, 2007); organizational issues throughout the juvenile L justice system, including resources and agency roles (Bishop, Leiber, and Johnson, 2010); “justice-by-geography,” that is, local institutional culture (Feld, 1991; Bray, Sample, and Kempf-Leonard, 2005); legislative decisions (Tonry, 1995); and administrative policies, such as zero-tolerance policies in schools that propel minorities into the system (Verdugo, 2002; Hirschfield, 2008). Several of these additional factors are discussed below. Code of the Street Anderson’s (1999) code-of-the-street thesis, which contends that minor- ity youth—especially black youth—form and espouse an attitude that is organized around informal rules governing street behavior and response to personal affronts. These attitudes form mainly in response to the economic disadvantage, social isolation, and racial discrimination encountered by black youth in the most disadvantaged urban communities. Adoption of these codes, which center on the issue of respect (i.e., being treated right or granted the deference one deserves), is deemed a virtual necessity for respect and survival in the most disadvantaged, distressed, and impov- erished minority—especially black—communities. But hanging out with ­ people who adopt the code of the street or being in places where such people are known to congregate may increase the risk of greater involve- ment with the police (Crutchfield, Bridges, and Pitchford, 2009) as well as actual crime. A study by Stewart and Simons (2010) using data on 800 black adolescents ages 10-15 in Georgia and Iowa showed that a youth’s expressed street code attitudes significantly predicted violence two years later, so that youth who internalized and lived by the code were the most likely to be involved in subsequent violence. It is important to note as well that scholars have identified a similar respect-based code of the streets ori- entation among Hispanics (Bourgois, 2003).

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REDUCING RACIAL/ETHNIC DISPARITIES 231 Juvenile Justice System Feeders A less investigated explanation for racial/ethnic differences in juvenile justice involvement concerns feeder systems and agencies that funnel youth into the juvenile justice system, including the school disciplinary system (Fabelo et al., 2011), the mental health system (Feld, 1998b; Teplin et al., 2002), and the child welfare system (Bowser and Jones, 2004; Herz et al., 2010). See Chapter 3 for a discussion of how these systems act as f ­eeders for the juvenile justice system. For example, a longitudinal study of almost a million adolescents in Texas schools found that 1 in 5 African American students had involvement with the juvenile justice system compared to 1 in 6 Hispanic students and 1 in 10 white students. The study controlled for 83 variables and found that African American students were more likely than students of other races to be disciplined and to receive a harsher punishment (Fabelo et al., 2011, p. 40). For example, African American youth were almost twice as likely as Hispanic students and three times as likely as white students to be placed on out-of-school suspension for the first violation (Fabelo et al., 2011, p. 42). This suggests that discretionary action by school officials is contributing to the higher rate of involvement with the juvenile justice system, with the Texas data showing that multiple discretionary disciplinary actions were more common among African American and Hispanic students than white students (Fabelo et al., 2011). As with youth referred to the justice system by schools, race is an important predictor of whether youth cross over from the child welfare system to the juvenile justice system (Herz and Ryan, 2008a; Herz, Ryan, and Bilchik, 2010). This is not surprising, since African American youth are over­ epresented in foster care at a rate of more than twice their proportion r in the U.S. child population. African American youth in the child welfare system are up to two times more likely than white adolescents to experience at least one arrest (Ryan and Testa, 2005) and to be disproportionately rep- resented in the arrest and detention population (Herz, Ryan, and Bilchik, 2010). As a result, previous child welfare contact is highly correlated with the overrepresentation of African American youth in the juvenile justice system (see also Chapter 3). Girls in the child welfare system are also more likely to be detained by the juvenile justice system than nonfoster care girls. Girls’ histories of multiple foster home placements, child protection system policies that penalize girls for running away, and inadequate communica- tion across the juvenile justice and child protection systems contribute to these disparities (Sherman, 2012). Youth held in juvenile detention centers and other residential facilities exhibit high rates of mental disorder (see Chapter 3). Evidence suggests, however, that there are few differences between youth from different racial/

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232 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE ethnic backgrounds on levels of symptoms at screening (Vincent et al., 2008) but African American youth may show greater levels of need than white youth on broader measures of mental health needs (Rawal et al., 2004). White youth are more likely to be ordered to services (Pumariega et al., 1998) or designated as severely mentally ill and referred for services than African American youth (Herz, 2001; Lopez-Williams et al., 2006; Maschi et al., 2008; Dalton et al., 2009), making them more eligible for smaller, more specialized treatment programs (Bishop, 2005). How much this differential in service involvement is attributable to juvenile justice system involvement is unclear (Garland et al., 2005). Gender differences are more pronounced. Rates of symptoms at screen- ing appear to be higher for girls than for boys (McCabe et al., 2002; C ­ auffman, 2004; Osterlind, Koller, and Morris, 2007; Vincent et al., 2008), and girls appear to have higher rates of prior maltreatment and f ­ amily history of mental illness (McCabe et al., 2002). They are also more ­ likely to be ordered to receive mental health services than boys (Yan and ­Dannerbeck, 2011). As a general rule, studies documenting racial/ethnic differences suggest that blacks and other minorities experience a disproportionate amount of contact with these agencies than white youth. We turn again to these sys- tems in our discussion of strategies for addressing racial/ethnic disparities. Negative Stereotypes and Media Imagery of Minority Youth Although negative stereotyping appears to have declined over the past two decades, negative images still remain quite commonplace (Bobo, 2011). Negative stereotypes and media imagery of minority youth may play a role in the differential treatment they receive from police and other actors in the juvenile justice system. For example, Bishop and Leiber (2012) suggest that although there is little evidence that police are overtly biased, they often do not have adequate information on which to base a decision to engage or arrest a youth and may be influenced by more subtle forms of bias arising from their perceptions of places and people. Television crime reports contribute to negative stereotypes of minor- ity youth. Iyengar’s (2010) analysis of local news shows demonstrated a systematic overemphasis on violent crime and associated crime with the actions of racial minorities. Bjornstrom and colleagues (2010) showed that ethnic and racial portrayals in television news reports were influenced by the context of the story itself (the race of the victim and the race of the per- petrator as well as the social structural context). Their study also showed that victimization in minority communities was routinely minimized.

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REDUCING RACIAL/ETHNIC DISPARITIES 233 Social Structure and Culture A macrosociological explanation of disparities looks to racial inequality and concentrations of “underclass” poverty that influence levels of offend- ing, enforcement practices, and formal court processes. Building on earlier research that examined the structural variations in court administration (community-level variations, budget, personnel, availability of facilities, rates of referral) and their impact on court processes (Feld, 1991), research by Sampson and Laub (1993) examined such community attributes as underclass poverty, racial inequality, wealth, court referral rates, mobility, urbanism, youth density, and criminal justice resources on court processes. Sampson and Wilson (1995) theorized that black-white disparities resulted from racially segregated neighborhoods in which members of minority groups were differentially exposed to key violence-inducing and violence-protecting social mechanisms. Wilson (2009) later expanded on this idea by acknowledging the prevalence of powerful structural factors impacting blacks, such as discriminatory laws, policies, hiring, housing, and education and the interplay of structural factors and the stereotypical attitudes and assumptions of various ethnic and racial groups, including social science researchers. To arrive at a fuller understanding of the causes of racial inequalities, he suggests that it is necessary to go beyond the independent contributions of social structure and culture and to focus on how they interact to shape different group outcomes that embody racial inequality, a view strongly endorsed by other researchers (Kempf-Leonard, 2007; Bishop and Leiber, 2012). SUMMARY The body of relevant evidence on racial/ethnic effects in the juvenile justice system demonstrates differential involvement of minorities in seri- ous offending as well as differential selection and processing by the justice system. However, the race/ethnicity effects have been found to be both direct and indirect—operating both because of and through other factors. Moreover, the disparities are not uniform throughout the juvenile justice process (tending to be more common in the front-end processes, which afford much more discretion than back-end processes), and disparities seem to accumulate as youth are processed into the system (although studies of these trends are limited and may be hampered by various selection arti- facts) (Engen, Steen, and Bridges, 2002; Leiber and Johnson, 2008). Other structural and contextual factors also may influence how minorities come to be disproportionately involved in the juvenile justice system, and these additional factors also need to be considered in designing possible strategies for reducing disproportionality.

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234 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE More than a decade ago, the report Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2001, p. 229) con- cluded that the debate between the “behavior [differential offending] versus justice [differential selection]” positions has led to a “conceptual and meth- odological impasse.” Following this, Piquero (2008b) concluded that future research should move beyond the “which matters more” debate and instead seek to understand how both hypotheses can explain the overrepresentation of minorities in the system and then to identify steps that can be taken to lower any disparate effect and treatment. Few steps have been taken in this regard. To be sure, there has been much attention devoted to racial/ethnic disparities over the past decades, yet the empirical research has primarily focused on assessing the effect of differential offending and differential enforcement (and to a lesser extent differential processing) in an isolated manner. There has been little effort to use statistical methods to quantita- tively partition the various identifiable factors (differential participation in the crimes that lead to involvement with the juvenile justice system, socio- economic/poverty effects, police patrol patterns in high-crime areas, family composition, etc.) that, in combination, produce racial/ethnic disparities. The committee recognizes the challenges that must be overcome to quantify the various contributions to racial disproportionality, given the difficulty of assembling the necessary data, designing the study, and inter- preting the findings. However, some progress seems possible by focusing separately on the sequential stages of the juvenile justice system. It is likely that some factors are more influential at spawning racial/ethnic differences at initial stages of the system (i.e., police decision to patrol and/or stop youth) compared with other stages of the system (i.e., prosecutor’s decision to charge and/or judge’s decision to institutionalize youth). Although this would entail a complex research effort, it should be undertaken for the purpose of helping to identify specific, actionable policy recommendations at each stage of the juvenile justice system. See Chapter 11 for a fuller pre- sentation of research needs. That said, the possibility of further research on the causes of racial/ ethnic disparities should not delay policy actions aiming to reduce them. Many initiatives have been undertaken in recent years, and some promis- ing strategies appear to have emerged. The next section highlights some of these efforts. INTERVENTIONS AND PROMISING REFORM STRATEGIES Several intervention efforts and policy reform initiatives and strate- gies have been developed to reduce DMC in the juvenile justice system. Little has been systematically documented about these strategies and their effectiveness—and even less has been published in the traditional academic

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REDUCING RACIAL/ETHNIC DISPARITIES 235 literature. Evaluations of these strategies have typically been undertaken by agencies involved in the implementation of reform strategies rather than by independent researchers. The committee agrees with the general conclusion that there is “little objective evidence that interventions designed to reduce DMC actually do so” (Poulin, Orchowsky, and Iwama, 2011, p. 118). However, two research studies are worth noting. An evaluation of community-based delinquency prevention programs designed in part to address racial/ethnic disparities found that programs were successful in reducing recidivism, that recidivism was lowest among the high-attendance group, but that program effects on school outcomes were negligible (Welsh, Jenkins, and Harris, 1999). A sec- ond study assessed how legal and extralegal factors changed in predicting outcomes at two decision-making stages (intake and judicial disposition) about 10 years before and 10 years after the DMC mandate. Their findings regarding the impact of the DMC initiative were equivocal. Specifically, they found direct effects for race at intake, but such effects were less pro- nounced than at judicial disposition largely because of the “wide latitude for discretion at the front-end of the system” (Leiber, Bishop, and Chamlin, 2011, p. 26). Research on differential juvenile offending, differential processing, and the broader structural context that impacts both suggests possible strategies worthy of exploration. Addressing DMC at the Front End Focusing on Arrest and Detention Given the evidence that race is strongly associated (both directly and indirectly) with decisions made at the front end of the system (Engen et al., 2002; Bishop and Leiber, 2012), strategies targeted at reducing the likelihood of arrest and detention, particularly from sources of referral to the juvenile justice system, offer a promising approach to reduce racial disparities. Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. Funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative was designed to reduce reliance on secure detention by promoting changes to policies, prac- tices, and programs. (See Chapter 9 for a fuller description.) The initiative has been credited with assisting in the closure of detention units or entire facilities as well as leading to reductions in Latino youth detained in Santa Cruz due to the opening of an evening reporting center (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2009a; Annie E. Casey Foundation at http:www.aecf.org/initiatives/jdai).

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236 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE The W. Haywood Burns Institute. The Burns Institute works with com- munity stakeholders and local agencies in a data-driven, consensus-based approach to change policies, procedures, and practices that result in the detention of low-offending youth of color and poor youth. As part of its technical assistance function, Burns reports some successes in developing DMC-reduction policies to reduce the number of youth who were held in secure detention and to develop alternatives to detention that have been shown to be related to a significant decrease in detention among black youth (Bell and Ridolfi, 2008; Bell et al., 2009; Poulin, Orchowsky, and Iwama, 2011, p. 106). Models for Change. he MacArthur Foundation Models for Change Initia- T tive was launched in 2004 in Pennsylvania and expanded to several other states, including Illinois, Louisiana, and Washington, and in 2007 the foundation established a county-level Action Network to address specific DMC initiatives in eight states. (For a more detailed description of the Models for Change initiative, see Chapter 9.) Anecdotal evidence suggests that several jurisdictions have initiated efforts to collect and analyze data on race/ethnicity across key decision points and have taken steps to use data to inform policy and practice. A Model for Change site (Philadelphia) has developed a minority youth–law enforcement training curriculum that was a joint project of the district attorney and the police department; in Berks County, Pennsylvania, the DMC Action Network enhanced Spanish- language capability and cultural competence, developed workforce oppor- tunities, and showed some signs of reducing minority detentions through improved assessment screening and diversion (Armour and Hammond, 2009, p. 6). Griffin (2008) reports that the DMC Action Network in Peoria, Illinois, found that many arrests of black youth were for aggravated battery and that once alternative conflict strategies were started, arrests for black youth dropped significantly. Working with the Child Welfare and School Systems As noted, the child welfare and school systems are contributors to the overrepresentation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system. Researchers supported by child welfare organizations, such as the Child Welfare League and Georgetown’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, have been working for more than a decade to identify “crossover youth” and to develop an integrated, multisystem approach to program development and delivery of services (Wiig and Tuell, 2011). For those youth appropriately referred to the juvenile justice system, identifying appropriate services and placements for them at entry would aim to limit their deeper penetration into the system.

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REDUCING RACIAL/ETHNIC DISPARITIES 237 The differential treatment of minority students for disciplinary infrac- tions is the object of close scrutiny by both the U.S. Department of Educa- tion and the Department of Justice. Publicly available data representing 85 percent of the nation’s students are being used to determine disparate discipline rates for suspensions and expulsions as well as arrests and refer- ral to law enforcement.16 A recent rollout of the expanded Department of Education civil rights database and the Texas study showing the high degree of discretion being exercised by school administrators in suspension and expulsion decisions (Fabelo et al., 2011) have resulted in widespread media coverage and a collaborative project between the Justice and Education departments to address the “school to prison pipeline.” Among the goals of the initiative are to promote collaborative research and data endeavors, including evaluations of alternative disciplinary policies and interventions and to encourage positive discipline options and awareness of evidence- based and promising policies and practices among each state’s judicial and education leadership (U.S. Department of Justice, 2011). Heightening Awareness An innovative legislative approach to reducing racial/ethnic dispari- ties has been tried in Iowa and Connecticut. Iowa became the first state to require “minority impact statements” for proposed legislation related to crimes, sentencing, parole, and probation and for grants awarded by state agencies, and Connecticut requires racial/ethnic impact statements for bills and amendments that could, if passed, increase or decrease the pre- trial or sentenced population of state correctional facilities (Armour and H ­ ammond, 2009, p. 6). Although these legislative efforts have yet to be empirically evaluated for reducing DMC, they represent the kind of inno- vations that are needed in addressing a serious but admittedly complicated problem. The minority impact statement challenges all participating agen- cies to inventory their policies and practices to heighten awareness of con- tributing factors and provide a tool for monitoring progress. Characteristics of Promising Strategies Soler and Garry (2009) have highlighted some traits that are character- istic of promising strategies to address disparities. First, these efforts need to have community support, originate at the community level, and include community stakeholders. Second, strategies need to rely on data from several sources to paint a complete picture of the nature and extent of the problem. Third, strategies need to be transparent about both successes and 16  Available: http://ocrdata.edu.gov.

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238 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE setbacks. Fourth, all interested parties need to be committed to long-term investment in lowering DMC that relies on evidence-based practices and follow-through with sustainable initiatives. It should also be added that a set of realistic expectations should be put in place so as to manage what stakeholders hope will happen and what is actually likely to happen in the short and long terms. Furthermore, DMC-related programs should have strong process evaluations in place prior to outcome evaluations being con- ducted on program effects because poorly implemented programs are likely to evince ineffective results and conclusions (Piquero, 1998). Based on experiences in reducing disparities in the child welfare system and for crossover youth who enter the juvenile justice system, five general strategies have been identified (Chapin Hall Center for Children, 2009): • Increase transparency—by building management information sys- tems that collect race/ethnicity information. • Reengineer structures and procedures—by reviewing processes and procedures routinely to determine whether they contribute to disparities. • Change organizational culture—by influencing attitudes of agency staff and identifying the subtle ways attitudes can affect policy and practice. • Mobilize political leadership—by building awareness and consen- sus among them. • Partner with developing community and family resources to build political will. The committee endorses these strategic suggestions and thinks they should be pursued. CONCLUSIONS Several National Academies reports have described with concern the d ­ ifferential handling of minorities by the justice system: Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2001); Fairness and Effectiveness in Policing: The Evidence (National Research Council, 2004a); and Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don’t Know Keeps Hurting Us (National Research Council, 2004b). Two reports have undertaken a broad review of the status of racial relations and racial trends (National Research Council, 1989, 2001a), and each contains thought-provoking chapters on racial trends in the adminis- tration of justice. Each aims for better understanding of the role that race and specifically racial disparities play in American culture and institutions.

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REDUCING RACIAL/ETHNIC DISPARITIES 239 Each reflects the complexity of the overrepresentation of minorities and the lack of easy solutions. We know that racial/ethnic disparities are not reducible to either differ- ential offending or differential selection. Many other factors affect dispro- portionality of minority youth in the juvenile justice system, including the troubling entrenched patterns of poverty, segregation, gaps in educational achievement, and residential instability. DMC exists in the broader context of a “racialized society” in which many public policies, institutional prac- tices, and cultural representations operate to produce and maintain racial inequities. The literature reflects continuing uncertainty about the relative contri- bution of differential offending, differential enforcement and processing, and structural inequalities to these disparities. However, the current body of research suggests that poverty, social disadvantage, neighborhood disorga- nization, constricted opportunities, and other structural inequalities—which are strongly correlated with race/ethnicity—contribute to both differential offending and differential selection, especially at the front end of juvenile justice decision making. Because bias (whether conscious or unconscious) also plays a role, albeit of unknown magnitude, juvenile justice officials should embrace activities designed to increase awareness of these uncon- scious biases and to counteract them, as well as to detect and respond effectively to overt instances of discrimination. Although the juvenile justice system itself cannot alter the underlying structural causes of racial/ethnic disparities in juvenile justice, many conventional practices in enforcement and administration magnify these underlying disparities, and these con- tributors are within the reach of justice system policy makers. Based on the current knowledge base and the context in which DMC occurs, the committee identifies four reform strategies for moving the DMC agenda forward. We think, given the importance and persistence of the problem, that the existing data are sufficient to warrant serious consideration of these strategies. First, reform efforts to reduce racial/ethnic disparities should pay spe- cial attention to the arrest and detention stages at the front end of the system. Reducing discretion by police and court officers through the use of written guidelines and risk assessment instruments; eliminating detention for youth who do not pose a danger; providing mental health, substance abuse, and other services up front so that youth can avoid penetrating deeper into the system; and providing alternatives to detention and alterna- tives to prosecution should all be part of an improved response to youth who are at the entry threshold of the juvenile justice system. Second, a comprehensive reform strategy should encompass review of school disciplinary practices and elimination of those that are punitive and discretionary and are likely to result in a referral to the juvenile justice

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240 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE system. As indicated earlier, schools are the source of numerous minor- ity youth who are caught up in the discretionary disciplinary practices of schools and are referred often to law enforcement for nonserious offenses. More research is needed to understand the pipeline process and the role that various actors play (school resource officers, school management) in these referrals. Similarly, policies and practices involving youth who have ties to the mental health and child welfare systems need to be carefully assessed to ensure that the reasons for their handling are legitimate and their subsequent processing by the juvenile justice system is appropriate and nondiscriminatory. Third, any reform strategy should focus on eliminating formal and informal agency policies and practices that are shown to disproportion- ately disadvantage minority youth. To do so will require the identification of key decision points and decision-making criteria that appear in practice to fall disproportionately on minority youth and perhaps to reflect implicit bias. It will also require the availability of proper legal representation for all minority youth and, for Hispanic youth and their families, translators. Fourth, reform efforts are needed to increase the accountability of national, state, and local governments for reducing racial/ethnic disparities. At the local level, political leaders need to take responsibility for identify- ing the extent of disproportionality in their communities. At the state level, cabinet-level leadership on juvenile justice administration should monitor efforts to address these disparities and to provide the necessary resources to enable the necessary data to be collected and reported. As mentioned earlier, state legislatures should consider statutes that would give heightened urgency and visibility to this problem, including establishing oversight bod- ies. Even though state policy makers do not control all the levers that must be engaged to address the problem, they do have the power to command attention. Part of the long-term solution is for state juvenile justice leaders to keep this issue at the forefront of the reform agenda. Finally, reform strategies at the national level, specifically those involving the OJJDP, the lead agency on this issue, are described in Chapter 10.