Disproportionate Minority Contact

Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) refers to the disproportionate number of minority youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. The Juvenile Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act of 2002 states that DMC exists when “the proportion of juveniles detained or confined in secure detention facilities, secure correctional facilities, jails, and lockups who are members of minority groups exceeds the proportion such groups represent in the general population.” Minority youth are overrepresented at every step of the juvenile justice system—they are more likely to be arrested, detained and confined. Research by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency and the Center for Children’s Law and Policy also indicates that minority youth receive harsher treatment than white youth. They are more likely to be confined and sentenced for longer periods of time and are less likely to receive alternative sentences or probation. 

  • General Info
  • Strategies & Practices
  • Tools
  • On The Ground
  • Other
General Info: 

Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court

(2013) New York City School-Justice Partnership Task Force

This report highlights research findings and recommendations made by the New York City School-Justice Partnership Task Force. The report describes relevant data about school-justice indicators in New York City, emerging trends in policy and practice around the country, and provides recommendations and strategies for implementation.

Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) 

(2010) Coalition for Juvenile Justice 

This fact and resource sheet describes disproportionate minority contact, the legislative history of DMC, and what is being done to resolve disproportionate minority contact.

The Critical Role of Schools in Combating DMC: A National Perspective and Local Solutions

(2010) NDTAC

This Webinar focuses on how local education agencies and schools can serve as a buffer instead of an entry point into the juvenile justice system for minority youth who are at-risk. During the Webinar, DeAngela Milligan, NDTAC Technical Assistance Liaison discusses the connection between community schools and DMC and examines some general DMC reduction strategies.

Disproportionate Minority Contact in the Juvenile Justice System 

(2014) The Sentencing Project

The briefing paper highlights the problem DMC is causing within the juvenile justice system and how policy choices have worsened disparities. The paper also provides examples of jurisdictions that have successfully addressed DMC.

Strategies & Practices: 

Reducing Disproportionate Minority Contact: Preparation at the Local Level

(2009) OJJDP

This paper describes the impact that DMC is having on the juvenile justice system, funding sources for local DMC efforts and strategies that States and communities can use to reduce DMC. 

Reducing disproportionate minority contact in the juvenile justice system: Promising practices

(2006) Aggression and Violent Behavior 

This article reviews national best practices for successfully reducing DMC in the juvenile justice system. Common practices and emerging strategies for effectively lowering DMC rates include: (a) data review and decision-point mapping; (b) cultural competency training; (c) increasing community-based detention alternatives; (d) removing decision-making subjectivity; (e) reducing barriers to family involvement; and (f) cultivating state leadership to legislate system-level change.

Seven Steps to Develop and Evaluate Strategies to Reduce Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC)

(2005) Juvenile Justice Evaluation Center

The guidebook provides training and technical assistance on evaluation information to enhance evaluation of juvenile justice systems across the country. The guidebook provides information on special problems facing those who work with juvenile justice initiatives and reports on related evaluation issues. 

Tools: 

OJJDP Disproportionate Minority Contact Technical Assistance Manual 

(2008) OJJDP

This online manual provides detailed guidance on DMC identification and monitoring, assessment, intervention, and evaluation. This manual incorporates lessons learned in DMC efforts over the years. It brings states and localities the latest information and tools for understanding and effectively addressing minority overrepresentation in the juvenile justice system.

Making the Case for Status Offense Systems Change: A Toolkit

(2014) Coalition for Juvenile Justice

This toolkit is a set of resources that can be used to educate judges and juvenile justice professionals about status offenses and the need for better responses to youth who are charged with those status offenses. The toolkit contains talking points on status offenses, a fact sheet/handout that debunks myths about status offenses, and a PowerPoint on improving responses to youth charged with status offenses.

On the Ground: 

School House Adjustment Program Enterprise

(2011) John Hall

John Hall’s presentation highlights the Memphis City Schools School House Adjustment Program Enterprise (S.H.A.P.E.) which aims to reduce the number of students sent to Juvenile Court for minor infractions of the law. 

An Impact Evaluation of Three Strategies Created to Reduce Disproportionate Minority Contact and the Detention Population

(2013) Dr. Nancy Rodriguez, Dr. Elizabeth Eell

Maricopa County, Arizona is one of the four counties selected by the Federal government to implement the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP). This evaluation indicates that each of the three strategies implemented by the Maricopa County Juvenile Probation Department had an impact on the detention population and the overrepresentation of minority youth in juvenile court.

Reducing the Incarceration of Youth of Color in Berks County Through Structured Decision-making and Community-based Alternatives

(2013) Berks County, Pennsylvania 

This paper is a high level reflection of how Berks County, Pennsylvania, also one of the four counties selected by the federal government to implement the Juvenile Justice Improvement Project, was able to reduce its annual detention population. Reductions resulted from: data-driven analysis of key decision points in Berks County, implementation of a detention assessment instrument, creating an evening reporting center, and utilization of alternatives to out-of-home placement.