University of the District of Columbia Law Review


While young people of all races commit delinquent acts, some are provided treatment while others are detained and incarcerated. Once incarcerated, these youth begin their slide down a slippery slope; they lack an equal opportunity to gather evidence and prepare their cases. Furthermore, they will be effectively deprived of the opportunity and the resources to develop the educational and employment skills necessary to progress to productive adult lives. It is well documented that juveniles of color are more likely than their white counterparts to be arrested,1 referred to juvenile court rather than to diversion programs, charged,waived to adult court, detained pre-trial, and locked up at disposition. 2 What recent studies have shown, however, is that these disparate outcomes are not solely the product of race neutral factors. Multi-regression research that controls for other causal variables has revealed a statistically significant "race effect" on decision-making at multiple points in juvenile justice courts and administrations across the nation. There is incontrovertible evidence that race bias affects critical decisions leading to detention or confinement. The consequences of this disparate treatment can be devastating to juveniles of color and any community aspiring to make good on the guarantee of equal justice.

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Juvenile Law Commons