Black Youths, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice

Black Youths, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice

Black Youths, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice

Black Youths, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice

Synopsis

Over the past decade, a growing body of research has delineated the nature and extent of delinquency, as well as the role of the juvenile justice system. Despite such research, the causes and consequences of delinquency and the role of the justice system remain poorly understood, particularly in regard to minority groups. This book is intended to meet a two-fold need: to extend research into the area of delinquency generally and to further research into the sociology of Black youths. The author explores critical issues such as the rates of delinquency among Black youths, explanations of delinquency, and the juvenile justice system's treatment of Black youths, as well as the policy implications for designing culturally sensitive and effective delinquency treatment and prevention programs. Joseph's work will be of interest to scholars in sociology/criminology, criminal justice, and Black studies.

Excerpt

A report issued by the National Coalition of State Juvenile Justice Advisory Groups in 1989 indicated that blacks are overrepresented at various stages of the juvenile justice system. the National Coalition suggests two possible explanations for the differential rates between blacks and whites in arrest, conviction, and incarceration: (1) a racist system, or (2) greater involvement by blacks in delinquency. in either case, it seems that the racist society is responsible. the coalition also suggests that there is an urgent need to change the social structure of society, and accordingly proposes improving the educational system, creating job opportunities, and providing more services to black families. Finally the coalition recommends that the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention examine police procedures and apprehension methods to determine why minorities, especially blacks, are at a greater risk of being handled differently from whites and to reduce or eliminate any subtle discrimination against minority youths.

Federal Bureau of Investigation data show that, while blacks make up 12% of the population, black juveniles accounted for 27% of all juvenile arrests, 49% of all juvenile violent offenses, and 26% of all juvenile property crimes in 1992 (Maguire &Pastore, 1994). To many delinquency experts, this pattern merely reflects racism and discrimination in the juvenile justice system. One way to examine this issue is to compare the racial differences in self- reported data with those of official delinquency. the results from the self- reported studies have been inconsistent, though generally nonsupportive of official findings. the overall indication from these studies is that the delinquent behavior rates of black and whites are generally similar and that the differences in arrest statistics may indicate a differential selection policy by police. Some criminologists indicate that the differences in delinquent behavior are insignificant and that therefore, the official differences are the result of bias in the juvenile justice system (Elliot et al., 1983; Hindelang, Hirschi &Weis, 1981; Huizinga &Elliot, 1987; Williams &Gold, 1972).

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