|Despite considerable research and policy attention over the past twenty-five years, racial disparity in juvenile justice remains a pressing social
problem. This suggests a need for new perspective on the nature of racial inequality in juvenile justice, and greater scrutiny of current policy
responses. This article focuses on the later challenge, testing the assertion that diversifying the ranks of juvenile justice practitioners can
reduce levels of racial disparity in juvenile justice administration. Diversification has been proposed as a viable remedy for disproportionate
minority confinement, yet virtually no theoretical or empirical work on the relationship between race and professional orientation has been developed to support and/or challenge this approach. Data from a recent survey of juvenile court judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and probation officers in four states (N= 665) are used to test OLS and Logistical regression models estimating relationships between racial background and orientations toward juvenile justice decision making, focusing specifically on attitudes toward the problem of disproportionate minority confinement (DMC) and the general concept of "accountability". Findings suggest that black professionals are far more concerned about issues of system fairness in general, and racial justice in particular, than are their white counterparts, and that professional diversification may therefore be a useful strategy in addressing racial disparity in juvenile justice. However, additional research is required to clarify the relationship between
race and professional orientation, and to determine the extent to which
variation in orientation is related to actual outcomes in case processing.
It is further recommended that DMC research and policy initiatives more
aggressively engage minorities as agents/providers of justice
administration, to counter a long research and policy tradition of viewing
narrowly minorities as "problem populations" and passive subjects/victims of
punishment and social control.
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