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NCJ Number: 201990 Find in a Library
Title: Minority Overrepresentation in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems
Author(s): Daniel Dighton
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
Chicago, IL 60606
Sale Source: Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
300 West Adams Street
Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60606
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: News/Media
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper examines minority overrepresentation in Illinois' criminal and juvenile justice systems, with attention to the findings of a recent study of racial disparities in the Cook County Juvenile Justice System.
Abstract: In Illinois, minorities composed just over one-third of the juvenile population, but they account for more than three-fourths of the juveniles held in secure detention. Data on juveniles transferred to adult criminal court for processing show an even more extreme overrepresentation of minority youth, particularly in Cook County, where minorities account for nearly all of the transfers. In a May 2000 Human Rights Watch report, Illinois was indicated to have the highest rate of Black male drug offender admissions to prison in the Nation. A federally funded study of the Cook County Juvenile Justice System found racial disparities throughout the system. African-American juveniles were heavily overrepresented at the arrest stage, which apparently contributed to overrepresentation at later stages in the system. The juvenile population of Cook County in 1999 was estimated to be 40 percent White, 33 percent African-American, and 21 percent Hispanic; however, 63 percent of the juveniles arrested in the county that year were African-American, 24 percent were White, and 12 percent were Hispanic. Regarding confinement, the study found that during the years 1996-1999, 77 percent of the juveniles in confinement were African-American, 15 percent were Hispanic, and 7 percent were White. White juveniles were underrepresented at all stages leading toward confinement. The study examined risk factors that may contribute to delinquency. These included poverty, family violence, and education. The researchers found that African-American juveniles in Cook County had the highest rates of exposure to the specific risk factors analyzed. The researchers speculated that the presence of these risk factors might not only influence the chance of contact with the police, but also influence decisionmaking as cases progress through the system, thus leading to an overrepresentation of African-Americans beyond the arrest stage. Such a possibility makes it important to have objective, standardized, and validated screening assessment tools as the basis for decisionmaking. Without effective assessment and screening tools, it is difficult to prevent inherent prejudices, cultural differences, and other biases from influencing decisionmaking.
Main Term(s): Juvenile justice policies
Index Term(s): Black/African Americans; Illinois; Minorities; Minority juvenile offenders; Minority overrepresentation
Note: The Compiler, Summer 2003
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