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Native American Youth and the Juvenile Justice System

NCJ Number
Christopher Hartney
Date Published
March 2008
8 pages
This paper examines the overrepresentation of Native American youth within the juvenile justice system.
Highlights of the report include: 1) the proportion of Native American youth arrested for violent offenses was less than 1 percent, but their proportion of referrals for the same offenses was 1.4 percent; 2) Native American and White youth were arrested for similar types of crimes, with Native Americans arrested slightly more often for public order and property offenses and slightly less often for person and drug offenses; 3) Native American youth were victimized at greater rates than other youth; the 2002 annual average violent victimization against youth (aged 12-17 years) for Native Americans was 145, African-Americans 97, Whites 95, and Asians 45; 4) in 2003, nearly 500 Native American youth were committed to residential placement for every 100,000 Native American youth in the general population; over two and a half times the rate for White youth; and 5) nationwide, the average rate of new commitments to adult State prison for Native American youth is almost twice (1.84 times) that of White youth. Disparities between Native American youth and White youth across the United States juvenile justice system are alarmingly high and need to be addressed. This paper provides a statistical overview of the problem. Figures, tables, and references