The overrepresentation of youth of color in the juvenile justice system is well documented, but researchers know less about the mechanisms that produce these disparities. In this paper, we focus on an understudied point of contact between youth and the criminal justice system: intake diversion. Based on a multivariate analysis of court records, we find that racial disparities in diversion are strongly mediated by family structure. We suggest that assumptions about the role of family in the completion of diversion requirements create indirect disadvantages by race. Specifically, African American youths are denied diversion opportunities largely because they disproportionately live in alternative family arrangements. Importantly, however, our analysis also reveals that such assumptions about family are incorrect. Family structure in our data has no relationship to the successful completion of diversion. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for understanding institutionalized racial disadvantage in juvenile justice.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||Race and Social Problems|
|State||Published - Mar 15 2019|
- Juvenile justice
- Systemic racism
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science