Attempts at reducing disparate treatment of racial and ethnic youth in U.S. justice systems have not made much progress, retired Illinois Judge George Timberlake writes for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. An analysis of federal data by the exchange from 1990 and 2010 shows that minority youth were greatly over-represented at every point of the system. The comparison of that 20-year span shows little to no improvement in arrests, adjudications, detentions and transfers to adult court.
Timberlake is involved with training for judges on “Racial Equity and Justice.” It is aimed at reducing disparity in the child welfare system, but the program has equal or greater applicability to juvenile justice, Timberlake says. He says the training sessions and its aftermath have been “frank and sometimes disturbing,” but judges are “seriously interested” in the issue. The judge cites material from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges that guides judges through a series of questions aimed at objectively determining facts necessary to make decisions about removing a child from her family without racial bias.