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Using NIBRS to Assess Ethnic Disparities in the Handling of Juvenile Arrests

Award Information

Award #
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2014, $49,635)

This program furthers the Department's mission by sponsoring small studies and/or secondary analyses of existing data to improve knowledge about the scope and impact of ethnic disparities affecting Hispanic/Latino youth's contact and involvement with the juvenile justice system.

The proposed research will use the National Incident-Based reporting System (NIBRS) to explore the extent of racial and ethnic disparity in the processing of juvenile arrestees. NIBRs provides unique data to examine the issues in the proposed research. First, unlike most public use administrative data sources, NIBRS collects ethnicity data for arrestees. Also, NIBRS collects data about the dispositions of juvenile arrestees (i.e., (a) whether the arrestee was released with a warning versus (b) received a formal referral to court). Finally, NIBRS contains 20 years' worth of police records obtained from over 6,000 police departments spread across 37 states. This implies that the sample size will likely be large enough to support complex and detailed models of disparity, and that there is the capacity for detailed multilevel models.

The proposed research will address two objectives. The first objective is to examine the extent of ethnic disparity in the juvenile arrest cases in NIBRS. For example, does DMC vary as a function of other legal (e.g., crime seriousness, injury, presence of a weapon) or extra-legal factors (e.g., demographics of victim)? Second, is there evidence of variation in DMC between jurisdictions? If so, do social and contextual factors explain this variation?


Date Created: September 14, 2014