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Disproportionate Contact: Youth of Color in Maine's Juvenile Justice System

NCJ Number
Erica King; George Shaler; Robyn Dumont
Date Published
May 2015
55 pages
This study documents the rate of disproportionate minority contact (DMC) for youth involved in Maine's juvenile justice system, differences in pathways to detention for youth of color, and the experiences of youth and families of color who have had contact with Maine's juvenile justice system.
The study uses a relative rate index (RRI) to demonstrate how youth of color are treated compared to their White counterparts throughout nine separate contact points in the juvenile justice system. The study found that DMC is occurring in five of the six counties in which it can be measured. The largest minority disproportional representation in Maine's juvenile justice system is occurring for Black/African-American youth. Data are shown for those counties in which DMC is occurring. Another key finding is that DMC in Maine cannot be explained by a difference in offense type or class. Also, White youth were more likely than youth of color to be detained for new offenses while on probation; on the other hand, youth of color were more likely to be detained for technical offenses while on conditional release and were more likely to be detained for bench warrants. Youth and families of color interviewed for this study indicated that youth contact with law enforcement stems from the specific factors of peer pressure, a lack of community support, troubles in school, and being targeted by the system due to their race. Youth and families of color believe they are subjected to systemic bias and preconceived notions about them based on race. Seven recommendations address the development, resourcing, and implementation of a racial equity plan across Maine's juvenile justice system. Extensive tables and figures and a 10-item bibliography