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September/October 2006
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for Reducing DMC

OJJDP's 11th Annual Conference on Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC), held September 7–10 in New Orleans, focused on law enforcement approaches to reducing racial disparities and disproportionately high rates of juvenile justice system contact for minority youth. Marilyn Roberts, OJJDP's Deputy Administrator for Programs, welcomed participants on behalf of OJJDP, described the Office's DMC efforts, and provided an update on States' progress in addressing DMC. Presented through a grant to the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ), the conference sought to expand partnerships among State Advisory Groups (SAGs), state juvenile justice agencies, local juvenile justice practitioners, and law enforcement officers.

The opening session featured a presentation by Steve Holbert, a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and coauthor of The Color of Guilt and Innocence, who discussed policing practices, the effects of racial profiling and surveillance on communities and public safety, and ways in which law enforcement agencies can guard against racial bias. Luncheon speaker Garry Mendez, Jr., Ph.D., Executive Director of the National Trust for African American Men, spoke about the urgency of recognizing and addressing systemic racial disparities that affect African American youth. The closing general session offered information on law enforcement-faith community partnerships to reduce DMC.

Conference workshops highlighted a wide variety of approaches to DMC reduction (see Workshop Topics sidebar). At facilitated forums, small discussion groups explored ideas for partnerships and next steps. Meetings involving State Juvenile Justice Specialists and DMC Coordinators provided opportunities for information sharing, and training sessions offered guidance to SAG members regarding their roles in working with designated state agencies in DMC reduction planning.

OJJDP's release of its new DMC Technical Assistance Manual, 3rd Edition, coincided with the conference. This comprehensive online tool, designed to be used with OJJDP's Web-Based DMC Data Entry System, covers DMC identification and monitoring, assessment, intervention, and evaluation.

Other conference highlights included the presentation of two awards: Pat Cervera of Denver, CO, was named 2006 Tony Gobar Outstanding Juvenile Justice Specialist, and the CJJ Spirit of Youth Award went to Marvin Gumba of Gods X Gangsters, Norfolk, VA. CJJ also arranged for conference attendees to take part in a local youth-related service project working to restore New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Workshop Topics

  • Law enforcement perspectives: processing, public safety requirements, and custody decisions as they pertain to DMC.

  • Youth/family perspectives: strategies for building bridges between at-risk youth and law enforcement.

  • Partnerships between law enforcement and community-based agencies designed to reduce DMC at the point of arrest (Louisville, KY).

  • A community policing approach to increasing positive police-youth interactions and reducing arrests of nonwhite youth for minor offenses (Boston, MA).

  • Strategies for addressing disproportionality in child welfare through community engagement and cross-system collaboration (Texas).

  • A DMC arrest diversion program in which police suspend the arrest process upon apprehension, referring youth for a 60 to 90-day assessment outside of the juvenile justice system in a restorative justice context (New York).

  • Forums to bring together law enforcement and minority community leaders (Pennsylvania).

  • A "stationhouse adjustment" program in which law enforcement and community-based agencies collaborate to divert minority youth from the system (New Jersey).

  • A one-day training curriculum on "Effective Police Interactions With Youth" (Connecticut).

  • Use of police-generated data in reducing DMC, police participation in community mapping projects, and police collaboration with diversionary and alternative programs (W. Haywood Burns Institute).

  • Reducing racial disparities in arrests of students by school resource officers.





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