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Open Access Publications from the University of California

DMC in the Juvenile Justice System: Listening to the Voices of Our Youth

  • Author(s): Graves, Kelly N
  • Frabutt, James M
  • Cabaniss, Emily R
  • Gathings, Martha J
  • Kendrick, Mary H.
  • Arbuckle, Margaret B.
  • et al.

Disproportionate minority contact (DMC) is a nationwide public health disparity, with minority youth comprising 34% of the juvenile population, but representing 62% of the nation’s detained youth (Hsia, Bridges, & McHale, 2004). Multiple analytical approaches have been used to address DMC, but to bolster those findings, a qualitative approach is necessary. Using participatory action research embedded within a cultural bioecological framework, the current study explores the reflections and lived experiences of youth impacted by racial disparities in the juvenile justice system. Results are summarized under the themes of neighborhood influences, lack of positive adult role models, disengagement at home, school and community, experiences with law enforcement/court system, perceptions of racial inequality, and what the future holds. Youth-developed solutions for change are offered.

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