Mark C. Stafford Professor of Criminology, Florida State University
- Racial and ethnic disparities are more nuanced than is evident in focusing only on tougher sentencing.
This research study examines how differences in race, ethnicity, and gender affect juvenile court sanctioning and rehabilitative interventions. The researchers used the data of every individual referred to Florida’s juvenile justice system in 2008, totaling over 74,000 youth. Five disposition groups were studied: dismissal, diversion, probation, commitment, and transfer. Results indicated that minority youth, especially Black males, were not only more likely than White males to receive severe sanctions but also were less likely to receive rehabilitative interventions, such as diversion and probation. The findings highlight that racial and ethnic disparities are more nuanced than is evident in focusing only on tougher sentencing. Disparities can arise as well when the focus is on differences in the likelihood of receiving rehabilitative interventions. The findings suggest warrant for juvenile justice systems to monitor and address punishment and rehabilitative programming disparities that different groups may experience.