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Press Release

Racial Disparities in Youth Incarceration Stagnate

Despite significant drops in youth incarceration over a decade, youth of color remain vastly more likely to be incarcerated than their white peers.

Related to: Racial Justice, Youth Justice

Despite significant drops in youth incarceration over a decade, youth of color remain vastly more likely to be incarcerated than their white peers. New data released today by The Sentencing Project reveal Black youth and Tribal youths’ disproportionate incarceration is largely unchanged compared to 10 years prior, while Latinx youths’ incarceration disparities with their white peers have been reduced.

The Sentencing Project’s new fact sheets show state-by-state incarceration rates by race and ethnicity and highlight where the problem is getting worse and better.

Black Disparities in Youth Incarceration

  • Black youth are almost five times as likely as their white peers to be held in juvenile facilities, an equivalent ratio to 10 years ago.
  • As of 2021, in Connecticut, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Illinois, Black youth were at least 10 times as likely to be held in placement as white youth.

Latinx Disparities in Youth Incarceration

  • Latinx youth are 16 percent more likely to be incarcerated than their white peers, a sharp improvement over the decade.
  • As of 2021, in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut, Latinx youth are at least 4 times as likely to be held in placement as white youth.

Tribal Disparities in Youth Incarceration

  • Tribal youth are almost four times as likely as their white peers to be held in juvenile facilities, an equivalent ratio to 10 years ago.
  • As of 2021, in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Carolina, Tribal youth are at least five times as likely to be held in placement as white youth.

“These new data should serve as a reminder that despite the impressive progress in reducing youth incarceration, the legacy of the Superpredator Era has yet to be erased,” according to Josh Rovner, Director of Youth Justice at The Sentencing Project and the author of the new publications. “Our systems of justice are much harsher on youth of color.”

Click below to read each fact sheet:

Black Disparities in Youth Incarceration

Latinx Disparities in Youth Incarceration

Tribal Disparities in Youth Incarceration