Juvenile Injustice: Racism and Bigotry in the Juvenile Criminal Justice System

"Even as child arrests and detentions have fallen, extreme racial disparities have persisted across the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems. Children of color, particularly Black children, continue to be overcriminalized and overrepresented at every point—from school discipline and arrest to sentencing and post-adjudication placements.

"• Although 63 percent of children arrested in the U.S. were white, American Indian children were 1.5 times more likely to be arrested and Black children were 2.4 times more likely to be arrested than white children.6

"• In 2017, the residential placement rate for children of color was two times higher than that of white children nationwide: Hispanic children were 1.4 times more likely, American Indian children were 2.8 times more likely, and Black children were 4.6 times more likely to be committed or detained than white children. In 18 states and the District of Columbia, the residential placement rate for children of color was four times higher than that of white children.7

"• Two-thirds (67 percent) of children in the juvenile justice system were children of color: 41 percent were Black and 21 percent were Hispanic (see Table 34).

"• Children of color are also disproportionately transferred to the adult criminal justice system, where they are tried and prosecuted as adults. In 2018, Black youth represented less than 15 percent of the total youth population but 52 percent of youth prosecuted in adult criminal court.8 Black youth are nine times more likely than white youth to receive an adult prison sentence, American Indian/Alaska Native youth are almost two times more likely, and Hispanic youth are 40 percent more likely.9"


"The State of America's Children 2021," Children's Defense Fund. Washington, DC: 2021.