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Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Disproportionate Minority Contact

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2014
16 pages

Based on a literature review, this study presents an overview of data, issues, and policy pertinent to "disproportionate minority contact (DMC) in the American juvenile justice system."


"Disproportionate minority contact," as used in this report, is defined as "rates of contact with the juvenile justice system among juveniles of a specific minority group that are significantly different from rates of contact for white non-Hispanic juveniles." The difficulty of addressing this issue in the juvenile justice system is compounded by racial and ethnic disparities that may occur before various racial/ethnic minorities have contact with the juvenile justice system. DMC may occur in the child welfare and foster care systems, school readiness, school performance, and school suspensions and expulsions. DMC in these domains impacts DMC in the racial and ethnic proportions of youth who engage in problem and delinquent behavior. In an effort to address this issue in the juvenile justice system, the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has mandated that States participating in the Federal Title II Formula Grant Program address DMC in their juvenile justice systems. Strategies for reducing DMC are in three broad categories: 1) direct services that address the risks and needs of the youth; 2) training and technical assistance that focus on the needs of juvenile justice personnel and law enforcement; and 3) system change that involves altering features of the juvenile justice system that may contribute to DMC. The literature on what policies and practices are most effective in reducing DMC is not as extensive as the literature on what works in delinquency prevention or other areas of juvenile justice. Still, a few evaluated programs could address differential offending by minority youth. Examples of such programs are provided. 78 references

Date Published: November 1, 2014