The Extent of DMC

Across the Country, the extent of Disproportionate Minority Contact/ DMC…

In 2011, youth of color [3] under the age of 21 represented 45% of the youth in the United States, but accounted for 71% of the youth held in detention nationwide, and 66% of youth committed to juvenile facilities upon a determination of delinquency. [4]

When the data is broken down by juvenile system decision points (arrest, referrals to juvenile court, detention, youth petitioned to juvenile court, youth placed in juvenile facilities after adjudication, and youth waived to adult court; [5]  disparities for youth of color occur at every stage.

Despite the fall in juvenile crime rates (and other related statistics such as detention) racial disparities have remained durable.


Among those young people who are arrested…

Black youth are:

  • More likely to be referred to juvenile court than are white youth
  • More likely to be processed (and less likely to be diverted)
  • More likely to be sent to secure confinement after adjudication of delinquency
  • More likely to be transferred to adult facilities [6] 


Hispanic youth are:

  • 4% more likely to be petitioned than white youth
  • 16% more likely to be adjudicated delinquent
  • 28% more likely to be placed out-of-home
  • 43% more likely to be waived for adult court
  • 40%more likely to be incarcerated in adult prison [7]

Similar disparities may exist among Hispanic youth, but data on ethnic disparities is limited. However, other sources have demonstrated that Hispanic youth are also over-represented in the juvenile justice system at every stage of the process.

NOTE: The publicly reported data required under Juvenile Justice Detention Prevention Act/ JJDPA only measures the extent of the differences- they do not identify the causes.


In Each State…

An analysis of racial-ethnic disparities have found that two-thirds of the state and local juvenile justice systems studied demonstrated a “race effect” at some stage of the juvenile justice process that resulted in poorer outcomes for youth of color.[8]

 In Pennsylvania

The impact of DMC on youth...

[3] The term “youth of color” includes all Hispanic, African American, Native American and Asian youth.

[4] This information was configured from the 2011 population charts. Puzzanchera, C., Sladky, A. and Kang, W., “Easy Access to Juvenile Populations: 1990-2012,”   (Washington,D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and National Center for Juvenile Justice, 2013), accessed February 18, 2014, at; M. Sickmund, T.J. Sladky, W. Kang, & C. Puzzanchera, “Easy Access to the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement,” (Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and National Center for Juvenile Justice, 2013), accessed October 29, 2014,

[5] Puzzanchera and Hockenberry, National Disproportionate Minority Contact Databook. Note that the document does not provide statistical information for Hispanic youth.

[6]Puzzanchera, C. (2013). Juvenile Arrests 2011. Washington, DC: OJJDP.

[7] Neelum Arya, et al., “America’s Invisible Children: Latino Youth and the Failure of Justice,” vol. 3 of Race and Ethnicity (Washington, D.C.: Campaign for Youth Justice, May 2009): 6,

[8] Eleanor Hinton Hoytt, et al., “Reducing Racial Disparities in Juvenile Detention,” vol. 8 of Pathways to Juvenile Detention Reform (Baltimore, MD: Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2001), 16-17,, citing Carl E. Pope and William Feyerherm, “Minorities and the Juvenile Justice System: Research Summary” (Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, July 1995), which can be found at