Juvenile Justice and the Incarcerated Male Minority: A Qualitative Examination of Disproportionate Minority Contact
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Racial inequality within the juvenile justice system has been cited by numerous studies. This racial inequality is generally referred to as disproportionate minority contact (DMC), and the causes have been debated in the literature for decades. Using a relatively unique methodology for DMC literature, this study incorporated in-depth interview data from thirty male juveniles residing in a private correctional facility to elucidate possible causes of DMC. By analyzing and comparing the experiences of incarcerated juveniles, support for theories of systemic racism, Donald Black’s self-help or the community justice theory, and Agnew’s general strain theory was found. Themes that emerged from the qualitative data include differences in neighborhood and family contexts for minorities compared to whites, variations in motivations for engagement in criminal activity, and differences in the interactions with police officers and perceptions of the police based on race. Specifically, major findings show minority participants were more likely to describe anger and revenge as the most common reason for committing crimes compared to whites, who frequently cited boredom as their primary reason for engaging in criminal activity. Furthermore, black, Latino, and Native American participants were more likely to report growing up in dangerous neighborhoods than whites. Police interactions also showed a racial discrepancy, with whites receiving more chances from the police, and minorities being repeatedly arrested by the same officer slightly more frequently than whites. Overall, findings suggest that disproportionate minority contact is a result of disproportionate levels of strain and injustice experienced by minorities compared to whites.
Subjectdisproportionate minority contact
general strain theory
Feinstein, Rachel (2011). Juvenile Justice and the Incarcerated Male Minority: A Qualitative Examination of Disproportionate Minority Contact. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from