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3 - Law Enforcement Contact with Juveniles: Arrests and Citations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 September 2022

Paul R. Ketchum
Affiliation:
University of Oklahoma
B. Mitchell Peck
Affiliation:
University of Oklahoma
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Summary

Our job is to respond to the crimes that we’re dispatched to and to stop and detain and arrest, if warranted, the person that committed the crime. … We don't pick and choose that by race.

Bob Kroll, Minneapolis Police Officers Federation President

Introduction

As outlined in more detail in previous chapters, disproportionate minority contact (DMC) is defined as the overrepresentation of minorities throughout the juvenile justice system. By definition, overrepresentation implies a comparison of the racial and ethnic characteristics of those in the juvenile justice system to racial and ethnic characteristics of a general geographic location. In addition, DMC refers not to a single comparison but to comparisons of the racial and ethnic makeup at multiple points—contact or decision points—in the juvenile justice system. As such, we examine race and ethnicity differences at three key points in the juvenile justice system to assess the extent of DMC. These points roughly correspond to the typical progression through the system: police contact, intake and detention, and the legal outcome or status of the referral. These decision points have also been described as “front-end” and “back-end” decision points (Charish et al, 2004). Front-end decisions refer to decisions made by police to arrest or detain. Back-end decisions refer to decisions made by the juvenile courts. These decisions include all adjudicatory and dispositional decisions. Between the front-and back-end decisions are those decisions made by court officials such as district attorneys whether to refer juveniles to the courts.

Figure 3.1 is a graphical depiction of the typical progression through the juvenile justice system. The figure illustrates several important features of the juvenile justice system. First, the simple progression through the system typically begins with police contact, followed by intake and detention, followed by the legal status or outcome of a case. Second, the figure illustrates the decreasing number of youths in the system as they progress through the system. More juveniles have contact with law enforcement than are detained; fewer juveniles have a legal outcome than have an intake or detention decision or contact with law enforcement. Finally, the figure is representative of the discretion employed by authorities at the various points in the system.

Type
Chapter
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Disproportionate Minority Contact and Racism in the US
How We Failed Children of Color
, pp. 55 - 73
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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