U.S. Department of Justice, Office Of Justice Programs, Innovation - Partnerships - Safer Neighborhoods
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Serving Children, Families, and Communities

National Disproportionate Minority Contact Databook

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DMC Data Sources

The Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Relative Rate Index Matrix promoted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is an ideal that some (or possibly many) data analysts are not able to implement due to the limitations of available data. The ideal data enables RRI developers to assess juvenile justice system processing using ten measures that capture flow at nine points in the system. These ten measures are (1) juvenile resident population, (2) juvenile arrests, (3) referrals to juvenile court, (4) diversions from juvenile court, (5) pre-disposition detentions, (6) petitions, (7) adjudications, (8) adjudications that result in probation, (9) adjudications that result in secure placement, and (10) transfer/waiver to criminal court. In addition, for the ideal RRI Matrix, each of these ten measures should be subdivided into six race/ethnicity groups: (1) White, (2) Black, (3) Hispanic, (4) American Indian and Alaska Native, (5) Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders, and (6) Asian. [The ideal actually includes a seventh race/ethnicity group labeled 'Mixed' that covers a wide range of possible subgroups.]

For an RRI developer, a common question is what to do when the available data are less than ideal. In developing the national RRI Matrices, we were faced with the same problems. We had data for all of the ten measures, although for some they were not the ideal measures. For example, our measure of 'transfer/waiver to criminal court' was the national estimate of judicial waivers. This measure excludes a prosecutor's decision to directly file a juvenile matter in criminal court or transfers that followed local legislation and placed a juvenile's behavior directly into criminal court. Some do not consider these two methods of handling a juvenile in criminal court as a true 'transfer' because the cases were never actually in the juvenile justice system. As data analysts, this was a moot point since data capturing these two methods are not available at the national level. We also had to make data compromises because the arrest and court processing data were not available that distinguished Hispanics or that separated Asian/Pacific Islanders into its subgroups. Given these data limitations, we built a set of RRI Matrices that took maximum advantage of available data.

The ten measures used in the national RRI matrices are:

  • Population at risk (ages 10-17): The data were developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and provide national estimates of the U.S. resident population by demographic subgroups. For the years 1990 and beyond, these data classify individuals into one of five racial groups. This is accomplished by estimating how mixed race individuals would self-identify if they had been asked to pick a single race. These population estimates are available from Easy Access to Juvenile Populations (http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/ezapop/).
  • Juvenile arrests: The juvenile arrest estimates were developed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) based on data reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigationís (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting Program. The unit of count is an arrest, not an individual arrested. This means that a juvenile may be represented in the arrest counts more than once. The FBI reports arrest data in four race groups (i.e., White, Black, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and Asian/Pacific Islander). The FBI does not distinguish Hispanic ethnicity when reporting its arrest data. These juvenile arrest estimates are available from BJSí Arrest Data Analysis Tool (http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=datool&surl=/arrests/index.cfm)

All of the following measures of juvenile court activity were derived from the work of the National Juvenile Court Data Archive (Archive) that is maintained by the National Center for Juvenile Justice. Archive data are the basis for the annual Juvenile Court Statistics series that monitors the workloads of the nation's juvenile courts. The Juvenile Court Statistics series uses 'case disposed' as the unit of count to describe court workloads. A case represents a youth referred to juvenile court for a new referral for one or more offenses. The term disposed means that during the year some definite action was taken or some treatment plan was decided on or initiated. Under this definition, a youth could be involved in more than one case during a calendar year. The Juvenile Court Statistics series develops national estimates of cases handled by U.S. juvenile courts. Due to the nature of available data, these national estimates are limited to data in four race groups (i.e., White, Black, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and Asian/Pacific Islander). National estimates of delinquency cases processed by juvenile courts in the U.S. are available from Easy Access to Juvenile Court Statistics (http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/ezajcs/)

  • Cases referred to juvenile court: The number of delinquency referrals disposed in the calendar year.
  • Cases diverted: The number of delinquency referrals disposed in the calendar year that were diverted from the formal juvenile justice system (i.e., before the filing of a petition requesting an adjudicatory hearing on a charge of delinquency). Some cases are dismissed after referral to juvenile court with no further action anticipated; these cases are not considered to be diverted. Cases that are diverted are either referred to another agency for service or receive services voluntarily from those that work within the juvenile justice system (primarily intake or probation officers).
  • Cases detained: The number of delinquency referrals disposed in the calendar year that had experienced secure detention prior to case disposition.
  • Cases petitioned: The number of delinquency referrals disposed in the calendar year in which a petition was filed with the court requesting either a transfer or an adjudicatory hearing.
  • Cases adjudicated: The number of delinquency referrals disposed in the calendar year that were petitioned and the court adjudicated the youth to be a delinquent.
  • Adjudicated cases resulting in probation: The number of delinquency referrals disposed in the calendar year that were petitioned and the court adjudicated the youth to be a delinquent and ordered the youth to a period of formal probation.
  • Adjudicated cases resulting in placement: The number of delinquency referrals disposed in the calendar year that were petitioned and the court adjudicated the youth to be a delinquent and ordered the youth to a period of secure confinement.
  • Cases judicially waived: The number of delinquency referrals disposed in the calendar year that were petitioned and the juvenile court judge waived jurisdiction over the matter and sent the case to criminal court.

Developed and maintained by the National Center for Juvenile Justice, with funding from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.