Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

School of Education

Abstract

Statistics show that minority overrepresentation in the juvenile justice system is not a new phenomenon. The problem, however, is not going away and might even be getting worse. In 2008, the FBI's Uniform Crime Report showed that 52% of juvenile Violent Crime Index arrests, and 33% of juvenile Property Crime Index arrests, are black youths. This occurring while black youth only accounted for 16% of the youth population. These statistics illustrate disproportionate minority contact. The question is whether disproportionate minority contact has improved, and what is influencing minority overrepresentation.

In this dissertation, I examine whether minorities are overrepresented in Oklahoma's Juvenile Justice System. I explore this by using quantitative data collected by the University of Oklahoma's research study on DMC using the Juvenile-On-line Tracking System, law enforcement data, and municipal court data. Once DMC is found existing in the juvenile justice system, I examine the relationship between covert racism, on the part of juvenile justice officials, and minority overrepresentation. This is done through 81 interviews with juvenile justice officials from Oklahoma City including: police, district attorneys, public defenders, judges, and juvenile specialists. Finally, I examine whether minority juvenile justice officials are similar to white juvenile justice officials in the use of color-blind racism. I do this by an analysis of the interviews, and comparing minority to white juvenile justice officials.

I argue that disproportionate minority contact exists, and that color-blind racism is present in juvenile justice officials, which has an adverse effect on the overrepresentation of minorities in the juvenile justice system. White juvenile justice officials are more likely to use color-blind rhetoric. Minorities use color-blind racism to a lesser degree than whites, but this can be explained through social identity theory. This dissertation might offer an explanation to research that supports differential treatment of minorities by the juvenile justice system, as a cause of minority overrepresentation. The difference between those studies, and this dissertation, is identifying that the ideology of juvenile justice officials could influence DMC. The implication of this dissertation then, is changing the beliefs of juvenile justice officials might be important in reducing DMC.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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