Disproportionate Minority Confinement

Disproportionate Minority Contact      Models for Change

Disproportionate Minority Confinement/Contact is defined as the degree to which minority juveniles who come into contact with the law enforcement and juvenile justice systems differs from that of their numbers in the general population. DMC trends are nationwide, with overrepresentation of minority youth increasing at each point along the juvenile justice continuum. In Washington State, youth of color between the ages of 10 – 19 represent 39% of the general population and 55% of the youth involved in JR.

Disproportionality of Washington State Juveniles Ages 10-19 by Race/Ethnicity

Juveniles by Race       Youth by Race

DMC is especially noticeable at the deeper end of the juvenile justice continuum. Data by racial/ethnic group for County Detention (mid-level system involvement) and in JR (deep-end involvement) show that:

  • African-American youth have the highest level of disproportionality in both County Detention and JR placements.
  • Hispanic youth and American Indian youth are overrepresented at both levels, but their greatest level of overrepresentation is in County Detention.
  • Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander youth compose the majority of the Asian youth category in County Detention and JR.
  • The proportions of white youth and Asian youth are both greater in the general population than in either County Detention or JR commitments.

Models for Change DMC Initiative

The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services JR serves youth at the deep-end of the juvenile justice system. Mitigating the impact of DMC once youth are within JR is important.

In early 2010, JR launched a Models for Change DMC Initiative funded by the John and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to evaluate service delivery and to ensure that minority youth receive the same benefit of JR’s programs and services as non-minority youth.

This initiative aims to address DMC in Washington through implementing the following DMC strategies within JR:

  • JR personnel will incorporate culturally responsive practices into their treatment protocol and interactions with JR youth and families.
    Highlighted Activities: JR has developed a research based DMC/Cultural Competence Curriculum and is currently delivering training to all JR staff.
  • JR youth, families, and community stakeholders will be engaged in the care and rehabilitation of JR youth.
    Highlighted Activities: JR has facilitated focus groups of interested parties to improve its delivery of programs and services.
  • Establish baseline data to measure DMC in JR and effectiveness of DMC intervention strategies.
    Highlighted Activities: JR is utilizing the services of an independent consultant to conduct a quantitative and qualitative analysis of juvenile court sentencing practices, disposition alternatives, and youth movement throughout JR’s continuum of care.
  • Policies, procedures & treatment model will not exacerbate DMC in JR.
    Highlighted Activities: JR is examining its treatment model to ensure that programs and services are meaningful for youth and that skills acquired can be applied within the community.
  • Public awareness of DMC causes and intervention strategies will be heightened through engaging in a DMC branding and marketing campaign.
    Highlighted Activities: JR has developed a community engagement strategy to provide education on key DMC issues in Washington.
  • More youth of color will receive disposition alternatives at the juvenile court level rather than being committed to JR.
    Highlighted Activities: JR is gathering and analyzing data related to the utilization of disposition alternatives for use by juvenile justice professionals.