Confronting Racial & Ethnic Disparities – 4/11/17

As many of you know, Virginia's juvenile justice system is challenged by the issue of racial and ethnic disparities and, in particular, the disparate and disproportionately high number of African-American children whose overrepresentation only grows more severe with each step deeper into the system. While black youth make up approximately 20 percent of Virginia’s youth population, they account for more than 50 percent of all intakes, and more than 70 percent of our direct care admissions.

These disparities impact real people and raise legitimate questions about the fairness of our system and whether all people are receiving equal treatment under the law. The crisis of racial and ethnic disparities in our juvenile justice system is not new, nor is it unique to Virginia or to the juvenile justice system. For example, the Virginia Department of Education’s Discipline, Crime and Violence report from 2014-15 showed that, while black students represented 23 percent of Virginia’s total student enrollment, they accounted for 53 percent of short-term suspensions, 60 percent of long-term suspensions, and 52 percent of expulsions.

This is a problem that is easier to identify than to solve, and one that defies easy solutions. The contributing factors are many, the issues challenging, and the people and agencies that must work together to take it on are numerous.

Read on . . .

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For DJJ Families . . .

We know that having your child involved in the juvenile justice system is probably stressful and difficult for you and them. During their time under our supervision or custody we want you to know that DJJ is committed to fostering consistent communication between you, your child, and DJJ staff. This communication and partnership is vital to getting your young person back on the right track and on with their life.

We want to be a resource for you during this challenging time, and support your efforts to continue to serve as a resource for your child, whether they are still at home or placed elsewhere. Clicking on the links below will help you understand more about our system and expectations, and give you more tools to help you through this process.

DJJ Resources . . .

The more we know about the youth we serve, the more effective we can be in providing services and support that will make them successful. DJJ’s Legislative and Research Department designs and coordinates a wide variety of reports, executed via an exhaustive examination of available data and a thorough review of the most up-to-date literature and best practices in the juvenile justice field.

Additional Resources