Combatting Racial Disparity in the Juvenile Justice System with MST

Posted by Lori Cohen, MST Services

Apr 19, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Jury duty prompts questions about disproportionate minority contact within system

About 32 million Americans will get called for jury duty this year. Just recently, I was one of the lucky few. The case I was presented with involved a young Hispanic man who allegedly possessed cocaine and a dangerous weapon with the intent to distribute.

The right to an impartial jury is an unalienable right in the United States, written into law by our Founding Fathers. Choosing this jury, however, was especially interesting and relevant to me.JuryDuty.jpg

 The defense attorney, as per usual, had a series of questions for each potential juror. One poignant question she asked was, “Do you believe that Hispanics commit more crimes than Caucasians?” It’s an uncomfortable question, she said. But in part, this trial was about race since before her sat an almost all-white jury.

As I waited patiently to be questioned, I thought about her inquiry and carefully formulated my own answer.

No, I do not think that Hispanics commit more crimes. But they certainly are arrested and tried at a much higher rate. I know this is true based on research. Some of this research is presented in this infographic, and even more is in this white paper, researched and written by Maureen Kishna, a Research Associate with the Center for Innovative Practices (CIP) at the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research & Education at Case Western Reserve University.

Both the infographic and white paper contain startling facts. Facts that will inform you, should you ever be faced with the same question as I was. How would you answer it? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

To learn how MST is working to reduce racial disparites in the juvenile justice system, download this white paper.

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Topics: disproportionate minority contact

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