Youth Incarceration Down, But Not For Youth of Color

Danielle Stewart
April 1, 2014

On April 1, 2014, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) released the first two reports in a new series on the dramatic reduction of youth incarceration rates in most US states.

The first two reports are a summary of findings and a report on using bills and budgets for juvenile justice reform. Subsequent reports, to be released during the month of April, will focus on supervision, placement, oversight, adult transfers, family involvement, and more.

The latest data from the US Justice Department show that the rate of youth in confinement dropped 41 percent between 2001 and 2011. Since 2001, 48 states have experienced such a decline. Yet, despite the overall reduction in incarceration rates among youth, much higher percentages of youth of color remain under formal supervision and in state secure facilities.

Dr. Angela Irvine, an author of the study and the director of research in NCCD’s Oakland office, said, “States across the country have been successful at reducing the overall numbers of youth in the juvenile justice system. At the same time, youth of color have jumped from 68 percent to 81 percent of all youth sentenced in juvenile court. In order to reverse this trend, we will have to find solutions that we’ve never tried before on a large scale—solutions that come from the communities most impacted by incarceration.” 

During April and May, NCCD will feature invited guest bloggers’ thoughts and perspectives on youth deincarceration. Guest bloggers include advocates, researchers, parents whose children have been in the justice system, leaders in the justice reform field, and more. Our first guest blog post comes from James Bell of the Burns Institute on April 1.

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