U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

The Influence of Race/Ethnicity on Disparities in Correctional Dispositions: Examining How Risk Assessment & Neighborhood Socioeconomic Context Affects Sentencing Decisions of Adjudicated Juveniles

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $134,762)

Risk assessments have provided courts with the opportunity to make standardized decisions concerning juvenile sentences and programming needs. These assessments have replaced professional decision making practices where court officials relied on hunches or previous experiences to determine what is best for a juvenile. Some primary goals of juvenile risk assessments include improving case management, focusing resources on juveniles who exhibit the greatest level of intervention needs, and determining which juveniles might benefit from diversion or dismissal. While some researchers believe the implementation of standardized risk assessments is a strategy to reduce biased decision making for racial/ethnic minorities, other researchers have called into question the extent to which risk assessments overestimate risk for certain juveniles, especially for minorities who live in neighborhoods where there is a concentrated socioeconomic disadvantage. No research to date has examined the intersection of race, risk assessment scores, and neighborhood disadvantage relative to the type and length of sentences juvenile offenders have received. To understand the potential nature of racial disparities in practice, there is a need to identify specific conditions that potentially influence biased outcomes for racial/ethnic minorities. The purpose of this study is to adopt and ecological framework to examine the extent to which race, criminogenic risk, as measured but the Ohio Youth Assessment System- Disposition Instrument (OYAS-D), and concentrated neighborhood disadvantage influence sentencing outcomes for adjudicated White and Black juvenile offenders. The archival data used for this study is the result of a partnership with the University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute (UCCI) and Franklin County juvenile court. Data will include a sample of approximately 16,000 adjudicated juveniles from 2010-2014. Risk assessment, demographic (race/ethnicity, age, sex, sentence type, and sentence length), and neighborhood data will be used to answer research questions. United States census records will determine level of concentrated neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage. Multilevel modeling will be used to analyze the interaction of race, risk assessments scores, and concentrated neighborhood disadvantage. Implications of this research include the development of effective policies and trainings to address race and class sentencing disparities within the juvenile court. Some anticipated products from this study will include a comprehensive data set for Franklin County and UCCI which includes combined risk assessment and neighborhood data, a report that will be provided to the UCCI to be use for risk assessment training, a conference presentation, and published peer reviewed manuscripts. ca/ncf
Date Created: September 13, 2016