Racial Disparities in Youth Corrections
Although we have civil rights and anti-discrimination laws in place to protect us from being treated unfairly based on our race, sex, religion, and other innate characteristics, the reality is that there is a disparity between the arrest rate, conviction rate, and sentences white Americans and minorities face for the same criminal offenses. This is true for juvenile offenders as well as adult offenders.
Regardless of your child’s race, it is critical that you hire an experienced juvenile defense lawyer to represent him or her in court as soon as you can after your child is arrested. The sooner you begin working with a lawyer, the greater the likelihood that your child’s case will result in him or her avoiding an unfair punishment and if necessary, receiving the help he or she needs.
Statistics on Racial Differences in Youth Arrests, Adjudications, and Dispositions
Similar to the racial makeup of the adult justice system, minority youth make up a far larger percentage of the juvenile justice system than they comprise of the general adolescent population. According to the MacArthur Foundation, two-thirds of incarcerated youth in the United States are minorities despite non-whites only comprising one-third of the adolescent population in the country.
Other facts and statistics about the racial breakdown of the juvenile justice system include:
From 2003 to 2013, the overall rate of adjudicated delinquent youth committed to correctional facilities fell by 47 percent. However, the gap between white and black offenders in secure juvenile facilities increased by 15 percent during that period;
In 2013, black adolescents were four times as likely as their white peers to be disposed to juvenile correctional facilities, while Latino youth were 61 percent more likely to be committed than white youth;
In 2013, black youth were 129 percent more likely to be arrested than their white peers despite committing offenses like theft, weapon possession, and drug possession at similar rates; and
In 2015, 44 percent of the adolescents in juvenile facilities were black, despite only 16 percent of the adolescents in the United States being black.
Advocating for Your Child
As a parent, your role is to protect your child at all times. Do not be discouraged or feel like incarceration is inevitable because of your child’s racial or ethnic background. You are your child’s advocate, and along with his or her lawyer, your job is to fight for your child’s right to ensure that he or she is treated fairly by the court.
Talk to your child’s lawyer about your concerns regarding biases in court and how it could affect his or her case. If you feel the court did not apply relevant laws to your child’s case appropriately, resulting in an incorrect adjudication and inappropriate disposition, you can appeal the court’s decision. Discuss this with your child’s lawyer to determine if it is an appropriate course of action.
Work with an Experienced Naperville Juvenile Defense Lawyer
If your child was arrested or accused of committing a crime, contact an experienced Naperville juvenile defense lawyer to begin working on his or her legal defense strategy as soon as possible. To get started, contact our team at Donahue & Sowa today to schedule your initial consultation with us, during which we will examine all the relevant facts about your child’s case to determine the most effective way to proceed with his or her defense.