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An Impact Evaluation of Three Strategies Created To Reduce Disproportionate Minority Contact and the Detention Population

NCJ Number
Date Published
47 pages
This study evaluated the effectiveness of three strategies developed by the Maricopa County (Arizona) Juvenile Probation Department to reduce disproportionate minority contact (DMC) and the number of youth placed in detention.
The three strategies assessed were revision of a detention index, a procedural change in the review of detention decisions, and a monitoring system for detained youth. Each of these of these three strategies contributed to a reduction in the juvenile detention population and the over-representation of minority youth in juvenile court. The strategies initiated an organizational focus on detention practices and engaged staff in a re-evaluation of detention decisions, with the intention of identifying youth ideally suited for detention. Efforts also include a continual review of the proportionate representation of minority youth processed in juvenile court. Although the strategies reduced racial/ethnic disparities in court outcomes, they did not eliminate such disparities. The study found that the success of these strategies depended on the implementation process and communication about the strategies among staff policymakers and decisionmakers. The evaluation recommends that other jurisdictions that are planning to address minority disproportionality and reduce detention populations should consider a multi-pronged approach similar to those implemented in Maricopa County. The major lessons learned from Maricopa County include the need for a clear internal communication/marketing plan; a documented implementation plan; ongoing measurement and feedback; and a review of the rationale for a process change. The evaluation relied on multiple methods, including secondary data analyses of official delinquency records and qualitative data from interviews and focus groups conducted with court and probation officials. 15 figures, 25 references, and appended former and revise detention index as well as interview questions

Date Published: January 1, 2013