Overall, juvenile placements have fallen significantly in recent years, with reductions in white, black, Hispanic, and native youth incarcerated. While there has been a significant decline in overall juvenile placements, racial disparity exists between black and white incarcerated students. Due to the existence of broad discretion in the juvenile justice system, the likelihood of both implicit and explicit bias manifesting in decisions of the juvenile justice process is high (Riddle and Sinclair 8256). Therefore, the disparate treatment of black students can be responsible for the disparity between black and white students. There are significant differences in how both groups are treated at various justice system points. In most cases, black students are likely to be treated less innocent than white students (Riddle and Sinclair 8256). Moreover, harsher treatments are common for black students at the front end of juvenile justice, justifying the existence of disparity between white and black students who are incarcerated.
School disciplinary action is linked to the higher juvenile incarceration rates among black students in that they are highly likely to be disciplined than white students. The disparity in the treatment of these students is evident. White and black students can commit the same offense; however, black students will be categorized as problematic (Riddle and Sinclair 8256); thereby, increasing their chances of being punished. Racial biases are responsible for the differences in the treatment of the two student groups. In particular, racial prejudice among school administrators and teachers contributes to the higher incarceration rates among black students. In most cases, the population of black students determines the likelihood of zero-tolerance policies (Walker, Spohn, and DeLone 421). Therefore, black students are more likely to be punished and end in the justice system due to racial prejudice from school administrators and teachers.
Riddle, Travis, and Stacey Sinclair. “Racial disparities in school-based disciplinary actions are associated with county-level rates of racial bias.” PNAS, vol. 116, no. 17, 2019, pp. 8255-8260.
Walker, Samuel, Cassia Spohn, and Miriam DeLone. The color of justice: Race, ethnicity, and crime in America. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2018.