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Racial and Ethnic Fairness
In 2020, cases involving racial/ethnic minority youth were 50% more likely to be referred to juvenile court for a delinquency offense than were cases involving white youth, but the level of disproportionality varied by offense and point of contact with the juvenile justice system.

Ratio of rates* between racial/ethnic minority youth and white youth by decision point and offense, 2020

Robbery Aggravated
Burglary Larceny Drug
Referral rate 1.5 2.7 6.6 2.3 1.5 1.7 1.8 1.5 0.9 1.6
Diversion rate 0.7 0.7 0.5 0.9 0.8 0.6 0.7 0.6 0.8 0.6
Detention rate 1.5 1.3 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.5 1.3 1.7 2.0 1.5
Petition rate 1.2 1.1 1.1 1.0 1.0 1.2 1.0 1.2 1.1 1.2
Adjudicated rate 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 0.9 1.0 0.9 1.0 1.0
Probation rate 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 1.0 1.0 1.0
Placement rate 1.4 1.3 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.3 1.3 1.2 1.7 1.4
Waiver rate 1.5 1.6 1.2 2.3 1.0 1.0 1.1 1.0 0.9 0.9

* The ratio of rates is created by dividing the rates for each racial or ethnic minority group by the white rate. A ratio of 1.0 indicates parity, i.e., the rates for the comparison group are equal. For example, if white youth and Black youth were referred at the same rate, the ratio would be 1.0, indicating the rates for these groups are equal. A ratio greater than 1.0 means that the rate for the racial or ethnic minority group is greater than the rate for white youth. A ratio less than 1.0 means that the rate for the racial and ethnic minority group is less than the rate for white youth.

Racial/ethnic minority youth includes Black, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and Asian/Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander youth.

** Violent Crime Index includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault; Property Crime Index includes burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

It is important to note that 2020 was the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which may have impacted policies, procedures, and data collection activities regarding referrals to and processing of youth by juvenile courts. Additionally, stay-at-home orders and school closures likely impacted the volume and type of law-violating behavior by youth referred to juvenile court in 2020.

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  • The robbery referral rate for cases involving racial/ethnic minority youth was nearly 7 times the rate for cases involving non-Hispanic white youth in 2020.
  • Across offenses, cases involving racial/ethnic minority youth were less likely to be diverted than cases involving white youth.
  • Conversely, cases involving racial/ethnic minority youth were more likely to be detained than cases involving white youth, and cases involving racial/ethnic minority youth were more likely to receive a placement disposition following adjudication than cases involving white youth.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/special_topics/qa11603.asp?qaDate=2020. Released on January 10, 2023.

Data Source: Adapted from Easy Access to Juvenile Populations [https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/ezapop/] and Easy Access to Juvenile Court Statistics [https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/ezajcs/].


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