The literature on what works to reduce DMC is not as extensive as the “what works” literature in prevention and other areas of juvenile justice because the research base is not sufficiently rigorous. There are, however, a number of county-level, multi-component initiatives that have demonstrated encouraging results in reducing minority representation at various contact points in the juvenile justice system. Because these initiatives are multi-pronged, the effects of any single DMC reduction strategy are difficult to disentangle from the effects of the initiative as a whole. As a result, DMC reduction strategies cannot be rated with the same scale that is used to rate programs in OJJDP’s Model Programs Guide (i.e., exemplary, effective, or promising; see
Criteria for Direct Service Strategies
Several criteria are used for evaluating direct service programs for inclusion in the DMC Reduction Best Practices Database.
County-Level Multi-Component Initiatives
County-level, multi-component strategies must be based on sound identification of the DMC problem and the DMC contributing mechanisms, must utilize the results of a DMC assessment, and must show empirical evidence of some impact on DMC trends. This types of data that can be used to demonstrate impact are defined by OJJDP’s long-term outcome performance measures for DMC reduction(for more on DMC performance measures,
The types of DMC trends impacted can include:
Existing OJJDP Model Programs
Over 200 direct service programs have been more rigorously evaluated and currently appear in the OJJDP Model Programs Guide. Many of these programs can be used as DMC reduction strategies, though they did not originate for specific DMC purposes. Those programs that have been tested on minority youth and are useful in addressing DMC at specific contact points, such as arrest, diversion, detention, or confinement, have been included in the DMC Reduction Best Practices Database. Their profiles note that they did not originate as DMC reduction strategies. These programs are rated exemplary, effective, or promising using the standard MPG rating criteria.
Criteria for Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Strategies and System Change Strategies
The reduction of DMC requires a comprehensive, balanced, and multidisciplinary approach. OJJDP stresses that DMC reduction needs to occur at the local level, beginning with the development of an oversight body of all stakeholders forming a strong partnership. DMC reduction efforts should be based on local data collected regarding the existence, extent, and nature of DMC; resource availability versus resource gaps; and a resultant locally developed, comprehensive DMC reduction plan. The systematic execution of the local plan requires the top-down support from local agency directors and bottom-up support from all line workers and other staff throughout the agencies involved in juvenile justice. When necessary, interventions must be created to reduce disparities.
Achieving such a balanced, comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach is obviously a complex process that is often achieved incrementally, using different strategies to address different audiences and different aspects of the problem. Two of the most important types of strategies that can lead to comprehensive change are T&TA strategies (which generally seek to affect staff behavior. skills, and knowledge) and systems change strategies (which seek to alter organizational policies, procedures, and system-wide “ways of doing business”).
Some specific examples of T&TA strategies include the establishment of partnerships, implementation of assessment studies, data improvement projects, training programs for law enforcement and juvenile justice personnel, hiring minority staff, and other strategies. Providing cultural competency training is one important way in which agencies can increase the effectiveness of staff at all levels. Providing culturally appropriate services is another way that communities can improve the cultural competence of their social services agencies.
Specific types of system change include altering the basic procedures, policies, and rules that define how a juvenile justice system operates to address DMC. Types of system change that can influence DMC include legislative reforms; administrative, policy, and procedural changes; and structured decisionmaking.
Unfortunately, few of these types of efforts are empirically evaluated. However, they offer states and counties useful strategies for beginning the implementation of DMC reduction. In order to assess these efforts, we have applied OJJDP’s system of performance measurement. The data is generally consistent with OJJDP’s output measures or short-term outcome performance measures. The DMC measures include the following:
It is important to note that all of the strategies presented in this section of the DMC Reduction Best Practices Database can be undertaken as part of a comprehensive strategy or singly. Because DMC is the result of a number of complex decisions and events, many strategies are implemented in stages. They are presented here as the beginning steps of a DMC reduction process.
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