"Indirect effects” is a broad term that reflects the fact that in this society, economic status, education, location, and a host of risk factors associated with delinquent behavior, among other factors, are linked with race and ethnicity. These factors, in turn, are related to delinquent activity or to other forms of contact within the justice system. Thus, the impact of race or ethnicity is not direct but is “indirect” through these three factors.
Specific risk factors, which are correlated with race or ethnicity, may lead to differential offending issues. Risk factors such as poor school performance or living in disorganized neighborhoods are more likely to occur to minority youth, putting them at a greater risk of system involvement. As an example, Sampson (1987) discovered that male unemployment is related to family disruption, a risk factor related to delinquency rates, thus creating a set of links with particular impact on African American youth.
Access to or eligibility for programming (public or private) may be affected as well. For example, access to some forms of behavioral health or substance use treatment is often contingent on medical insurance coverage. That coverage is, in turn, often contingent on economic circumstances, which places many minority families at a disadvantage in obtaining such services. The use of alternative private schools as a preventive measure is also highly related to economic circumstances, again creating a link to race and ethnicity. Juvenile justice decisionmakers report that, in some situations, the only way they can obtain needed treatment services for minority youth is to commit them to state custody, thus adding to the DMC levels for that community.
Decisionmaking factors used within the juvenile justice system may be linked to race and ethnicity. For example, a number of studies have indicated that juvenile justice decisionmakers respond differently to youth from an “intact” two-parent family setting than to youth from a single-parent home. A greater proportion of minority youth in those justice systems lived in single-parent households or other family structures that created a difference in handling within the justice system (Bishop and Frazier, 1996). Thus, what appears to be a decision based on relevant factors made in “good faith” may still contribute to DMC. An alternative may be to expand the search to look for an adult willing to take responsibility for the youth, thus reaching past the two-parent home to examine the capacity of other family structures.
Mobility Effects: Importation/Displacement
Differential Opportunities for Prevention and Treatment
Justice by Geography
Legislation, Policies, and Legal Factors With Disproportionate Impact
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