Report: Youth Crime Down, But Minority Children Get Harsher Treatment
By Jeff Cohen
December 20, 2010
A new report released by an advocacy group for juvenile justice says that various measures show that youth crime in Connecticut is down. But as WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports, the state nevertheless gives its minority youth offenders harsher treatment.
Abby Anderson heads the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance which released its report this week. She cited policy changes over the past decade that led to a decrease in youth crime and incarceration. The report says that the number of juveniles committed to long-term residential placement or incarceration decreased by 61 percent since 1999.
“We were really excited that the data shows that when you do it that way, when you look at the whole kid and the whole family and the whole community, that you get good results. Juvenile crime is down, we’ve got less kids going into commitment, more kids staying in the community, which is cheaper than locking kids up.”
But the report also says that minority children are more likely to enter the juvenile justice system than their white peers. And once they’re in the system, those children are treated differently.
“Connecticut isn’t alone in the fact that there’s a huge disparity in how you’re treated by these different systems based on the color of your skin. It’s not that there’s some one person who’s racist sitting behind a door making all these decisions. It’s just the system has sort of grown that way.”
Anderson says she plans to use the report to inform legislators during their upcoming session.