Racial and Ethnic Disparities (R/ED)

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), racial and ethnic disparities (R/ED) refer to the disproportionate number of minority youth who have contact with the juvenile justice system. The federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) defined R/ED as "minority youth populations [being] involved at a decision point in the juvenile justice system at disproportionately higher rates than non-minority youth.” 

Racial and ethnic disparities exist if a specific minority group’s rate of contact at a particular point in the juvenile justice system is different than the rate of contact for non-Hispanic whites or other minority groups.

North Carolina receives federal funding in support of programs designed to address R/ED, as well as provide valuable services to at-risk youth and families. The federal government provides training and technical assistance and awards states funds to improve delinquency prevention and juvenile justice efforts. 

The N.C. Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice (ACJJ) has implemented policies, strategies and best practices to reduce R/ED in juvenile justice. A cross-section of agency professionals is involved in examining practices, including disaggregation of data collection by race and ethnicity, establishing cultural competency training, and increasing alternatives to detention. Collaboration with juvenile court counselors and other juvenile justice professionals, and establishing relationships with key stakeholders at each decision point in the juvenile justice process, including detention, is essential. Decreasing the number of youth unnecessarily or inappropriately detained reduces disproportionate minority confinement and contact with the juvenile justice system. ACJJ supports efforts by local grant recipients with initiatives that provide opportunities for reducing R/ED. Other strategies to target R/ED consist of partnering with Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils (JCPC), and juvenile justice professionals that provide education and awareness to law enforcement, school resource officers, stakeholders and the public. R/ED is effectively addressed by implementing and sustaining policies, practices, procedures and multipronged intervention strategies to ensure equal treatment of all youth.

For additional information on racial and ethnic disparities in juvenile justice, please contact Racial & Ethnic Disparities Coordinator Crystal Wynn-Lewis at 919-324-6403.