Racial Disparities in North Carolina Juvenile Justice System WSSU Center for Community Safety Selected to Study

October 1, 2012

           Winston-Salem State University’s (WSSU) Center for Community Safety (CCS) has been selected by the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission (GCC) and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS) to conduct a statewide assessment of racial disparities in the juvenile justice system.

            The study will examine the relationship between racial disproportionality in the juvenile justice system and the factors or conditions that contribute to Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC). DMC refers to the disproportionate representation of ethnic minority groups who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.   According to DPS Secretary Reuben Young, the purpose of the assessment is “to provide policymakers, practitioners and funders information upon which DMC reduction interventions may be developed and implemented.  Our goal is for the assessment to serve as a baseline for our DMC reduction efforts so that we can measure our progress at moving closer to providing equal and fair treatment for every youth involved in the juvenile justice system.”

           “Obviously, we are very pleased to have been selected for this important assessment,” said Alvin Atkinson, CCS executive director.  “Youth issues such as DMC have been the focus of our work since our creation in 2001.  Being selected for this study is recognition of our work in this area and also a testament to the quality of the WSSU research team that has been assembled for the project.” 

            Dr. Tiffany Baffour, director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, will lead the research team that is comprised of Dr. Richard Moye, assistant professor of sociology, Dr. Dawn Henderson, assistant professor of psychology; and Dr. Pedro Hernandez, data research and analytics manager at the CCS.  In addition, Loring “Mimi” Greaux, adjunct professor of social work, will serve as project coordinator.   

            According to Baffour, “the research study will use mixed methods including quantitative and qualitative data analysis to examine the presence of significant racial variances along the continuum of decision points within juvenile justice system as well as the mechanisms and discernible contributors to DMC. Ultimately, our aim is to assist policymakers with implementing and supporting strategies that will reduce DMC throughout juvenile justice systems across the state.”   The published report from the study is expected in January 2013. 

            Brandy Dolby, DMC coordinator who leads the state’s DMC reduction strategies and initiatives at GCC said, “the study will build upon previous and current DMC reduction efforts and become a resource that will enable us to identify, address and reduce disparate treatment of minority youth within juvenile justice.  The study can pave the way for juvenile justice advocates and practitioners to collaborate more effectively with schools, law enforcement and social services policymakers and practitioners who are pursuing similar efforts within their respective systems to provide fair and equitable services to all youth.”

            The CCS will make formal presentations of the findings and recommendations to Crime Commission members and the state DMC Committee this December.  The information will also be used to inform other applicable juvenile justice system stakeholders including impacted community groups and non-profit organizations actively addressing DMC issues.

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