States of Delinquency: Race and Science in the Making of California's Juvenile Justice System

States of Delinquency: Race and Science in the Making of California's Juvenile Justice System

States of Delinquency: Race and Science in the Making of California's Juvenile Justice System

States of Delinquency: Race and Science in the Making of California's Juvenile Justice System

Synopsis

This unique analysis of the rise of the juvenile justice system from the nineteenth to twentieth centuries uses one of the harshest states--California--as a case study for examining racism in the treatment of incarcerated young people of color. Using rich new untapped archives, States of Delinquency is the first book to explore the experiences of young Mexican Americans, African Americans, and ethnic Euro-Americans in California correctional facilities including Whittier State School for Boys and the Preston School of Industry. Miroslava Chávez-Garcéa examines the ideologies and practices used by state institutions as they began to replace families and communities in punishing youth, and explores the application of science and pseudo-scientific research in the disproportionate classification of youths of color as degenerate. She also shows how these boys and girls, and their families, resisted increasingly harsh treatment and various kinds of abuse, including sterilization.

Excerpt

In the last three decades, the proportion of Latino and African American males eighteen years of age and under in the juvenile justice system has climbed remarkably in relation to white or Euro-American males. This is true particularly for young males residing in some of the most populous states, including New York, Texas, and California. Statistics from around the country indicate that youths of color comprise 38 percent of the population, yet they make up a whopping 72 percent of incarcerated juveniles. Advocacy groups such as the W. Haywood Burns Institute report that, at all stages of contact with the juvenile justice system, minority youth face discrimination. For instance, they are more likely than whites to be arrested, assigned higher bail amounts, given stiffer sentences, and transferred to adult court. The sources of these disparities are not yet clear although it is known that poverty, poor schooling, cultural and language barriers, racial profiling, and deep-rooted mistrust of the police, courts, and corrections in communities of color have contributed to the overrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities, particularly males, in the juvenile justice system.

Our knowledge of the relationship of cops, courts, and corrections, on the one hand, and of youths and communities of color, on the other, is sparse and more so when it comes to understanding the historical underpinnings of that mistrust. Our greatest insight on Latinas and Latinos and Mexican Americans, specifically, comes from the World War II era and the criminalization, racialization, and pathologization of pachucos . . .

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