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Disproportionate Minority Contact in the Maryland Juvenile Justice System

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Author(s): (Douglas Young) (Christina Yancey) (Sara Betsinger) (Jill Farrell)

Typical of findings in other states, previous analyses of juvenile justice system data in Maryland have shown youth of color to appear in disproportionately high numbers in virtually all stages of case processing. In late 2009, the Governor's Office on Crime Control and Prevention awarded IGSR a grant to conduct a statewide assessment of disproportionate minority contact (DMC) in Maryland, updating our understanding of the nature and extent of DMC in the state, and of current efforts in DMC reduction. The first section of this report details the level of DMC occurring at various stages of juvenile case processing for African-American and Latino youth, and for girls of color, using both statewide and local jurisdictional data. Analyses exploring possible contributing factors to DMC are presented in a second section. These include multivariate analyses of two key decision points, detention and petitioning, and analyses of juvenile justice staff overrides of a detention decision-making protocol and of charge-specific disproportionalities in Baltimore City. A third section provides a comprehensive description and assessment of current strategies and efforts aimed at reducing DMC, including state and local-level DMC coordinators and committee structures, systems change interventions, and DMC reduction programs. Results from a statewide survey of juvenile justice stakeholders on their perceptions of the extent and urgency of DMC issues in their jurisdictions, and local reduction efforts, are presented in the final section. The report's Executive Summary highlights key findings from the study and their implications, and provides an extensive series of recommendations regarding priority areas for future reduction efforts, improvements to those efforts, and more detailed, targeted assessments.