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Cumberland County Law Enforcement Interviews & Case File Review

NCJ Number
Teresa Hubley; George Shaler
Date Published
May 2012
21 pages
This report presents the results of case file reviews and interviews with law enforcement officials in Cumberland County, Maine on the problem of disproportionate minority contact among juvenile offenders.
The primary purpose of this study was to identify and describe the factors that law enforcement officials in Cumberland County, Maine, perceived as being most important in dealing with minority and non-minority youth. Interviews with law enforcement officials revealed a common set of steps that were taken when processing juvenile cases: 1) determining situational aspects of the case, including biographical information on the victim, witnesses, and accused; noting the nature of the act; and assessing the severity of the act; 2) contacting key parties involved with the juvenile; and 3) processing the case, including deciding if additional action is warranted and filling out the paperwork and reports. The report also discusses which factors affected a law enforcement agency's decision to recommend a certain course of action: parental involvement or lack thereof, a juvenile's prior arrest/offense history, cooperativeness of the juvenile, and severity of the crime. The analysis also found that most respondents indicated that they believed that minorities were treated fairly and that no deferential treatment was provided to minority youth anywhere in the system, and that language and culture were two of the largest barriers faced by law enforcement when encountering minority youth. The report highlights a set of strategies that have been shown to keep youth, and especially minority youth, out of the juvenile justice system. These best practices include the School Resource Officer program, youth programming such as the Police Activity League, and connecting with community groups or engaging in community education. Recommendations for improving law enforcement's handling of juvenile cases are discussed. Tables