What is Disproportionate Minority Contact?
Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) refers to the overrepresentation of minority youth (all minority races and ethnic groups) who come into contact with the juvenile justice system relative to their numbers in the general population. Contact refers to all stages of the juvenile justice system, from an initial encounter with law enforcement (i.e., arrest) to all subsequent decision points (diversion, adjudication, confinement, etc.).
What does DMC mean to Mississippi?
Under the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, Mississippi must achieve and maintain compliance with four core requirements in order to be eligible to participate in the Formula Grants Program, which provides funds in support of the state and local efforts in the areas of delinquency prevention and intervention as well as juvenile justice system improvements. Among these requirements is the reduction of disproportionate minority representation in the juvenile justice system.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention 2002 amendments to this federal law require states to address “juvenile delinquency prevention efforts and system improvement efforts designed to reduce, without establishing or requiring numerical standards or quotas, the disproportionate number of juvenile members of minority groups who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.”
To continue to receive federal funds, Mississippi must demonstrate that it is working to reduce DMC in the juvenile justice system.
What steps does the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention recommend to states for meeting the DMC requirement?
The federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which administers the Formula Grants Program, recommends that state take five basic steps in their efforts to reduce DMC:
- Identification: Determine the extent, if any, to which DMC exists;
- Assessment: Assess the reasons for DMC (and its implications);
- Intervention: Develop and implement intervention strategies to address these identified reasons;
- Evaluation: Evaluate the effectiveness of the chosen intervention strategies; and
- Monitoring: Track changes in DMC trends and adjust intervention strategies as needed.
- Lack of legal representation
- Lack of community resources
- Lack of education
- Confusion over which services are provided by which system Subject decision making throughout the juvenile justice system
- Arrest – when law enforcement agencies apprehend, stop, or otherwise contact them and suspect them of having committed a delinquent act.
- Referral – is when a potential delinquent youth is sent forward for legal processing and received by juvenile or family court or juvenile intake agency, either as a result of law enforcement action or upon a complaint by a citizen or school.
- Diversion – youth referred to juvenile court for delinquent acts, but handled without the filing of formal charges.
- Detention – refers to a youth being held in secure detention facilities at some point during court processing.
- Petitioned/Charge filing – when a juvenile court intake officer, prosecutor, or other official determines that a case should be handled formally.
- Delinquent findings – when a youth is found to be delinquent during adjudicatory hearings and may be placed on probation, committed to residential facilities, community services or various other sanctions.
- Probation – when a youth is placed on formal or court-ordered supervision following a juvenile court disposition.
- Secure Confinement – when a youth is placed in secure residential or correctional facilities for delinquent offenders.
- Transferred to Adult Court – when a youth is transferred to criminal court as a result of a judicial finding in juvenile court.
How is Mississippi responding to this federal mandate?
The Office Juvenile Justice Programs has been working closely with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to determine the extent of minority overrepresentation in the juvenile justice system, both on a statewide and local level. The Office of Justice Programs is using the Mississippi Statics Analysis Center, Division of Youth Services, and Administrative Office of the Courts to gather state and county DMC data, then analyzing these data along with U.S. Census Bureau population data to identify trends and plan appropriate interventions.
What are the Factors That Can Contribute To DMC?
What are the nine points of contact for the juvenile system?
How can systems intervene?
- Create and design adequate juvenile data systems
- Equal distribution of system resources
- Culturally appropriate services by providers (including substances abuse and mental health providers)
- Court advocates who can explain the court process and consequences of failing to appear
- Family advocates in all parts of the system
- Elimination of barriers for family involvement
- Diverse composition of the system workforce.
What are some of the Mississippi Office of Justice Programs targeted goals for DMC?
- Gather, analyze, and distribute juvenile justice data
- Conduct research on effective DMC reduction programs
- Provide training and technical assistance around DMC and cultural competency
- Coordinate the DMC Subcommittee of the SAG
- Distribute federal grant funds to programs that aim to reduce DMC