they represented 28 percent of juvenile arrests, 37 percent of the detained population, 38 percent of those in secure placement, and 58 percent of youth committed to state adult prison (National Council on Crime and Delinquency, 2007, p. 3; The Sentencing Project, 2010, p. 1). Furthermore, 2008 case processing data for delinquency offenses from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s National Disproportionate Minority Contact Databook (Puzzanchera and Adams, 2011a) indicate that black youth have much higher rates of arrests than their white counterparts, as well as higher rates of being detained, having petitions filed, and being placed, but lower rates of being diverted and referred to probation (see Table 8-2).7 The pattern of differences for American Indian and Asian American youth compared with whites is not so straightforward. Both American Indian and Asian American youth have a higher rate of disproportionate contact at the case referral stage and the detention stage than whites. Asian youth have higher rates of processing than black youth in the referral, petition, and adjudication stages as well higher rates of transfer to adult court. Both groups are diverted at a lower rate than either white or black youth (see Table 8-2).

In sum, with few exceptions, data consistently show that youth of color have been overrepresented at every stage of the juvenile justice system, that race/ethnicity are associated with court outcomes, and that racial/ethnic differences increase and become more pronounced with further penetration into the system through the various decision points (Rodriguez, 2010).8 When one includes the compound and cumulative character of racial/ethnic involvement throughout (and through progressive stages of) the juvenile justice system, it is no surprise that the issue has been subject to much discussion and, in turn, received persistent attention.

The remaining important question is why minorities are overrepre-sented in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. We begin with the two main perspectives (differential offending and differential selection by the justice system), which have often been viewed—incorrectly in the committee’s view—as competing, rather than complementary, explanations for the disparity (Piquero, 2008a; Bishop and Leiber, 2012). We then expand our


7 In a different analysis of 2005 data from the National Juvenile Court Data Archive that include ethnicity data for about two-thirds of the nation’s Latino population, Latino youth are 4 percent more likely than white youth to be petitioned; 16 percent more likely than white youth to be adjudicated delinquent; 28 percent more likely than white youth to be detained; 41 percent more likely than white youth to receive out-of-home placement; 43 percent more likely to be admitted to adult prison (Arya et al., 2009).

8 The Rodriguez study appears to be at odds with the Cohen et al. (2011) review of 72 studies cited earlier. Although they are addressing similar issues, the Rodriguez study and others like it focus on a single site and study youth through various juvenile justice stages from beginning to end.

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