In examining juvenile minorities' disproportionate contact with the juvenile justice system in Anchorage, AK, this study focused on contact at the referral stage, which occurs when law enforcement officers refer youth to the Alaska Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).
Five groups of youth were identified in the study cohort (n =1,936 youth referred to DJJ during fiscal year 2005). One consisted of youth with few referred charges (low delinquency group). The moderate delinquency group showed low levels of referrals from age 10 to 12, moderate levels of referrals at age 13 and 14, and low levels of referrals thereafter. The third group consisted of youth whose referral rate started to increase early, peaked at a high level, but began to decline by age 17 (early starters/desisters). Two other groups both showed signs of persistence, with one starting earlier than the other. The referral rate for the early starters/persisters began to increase at age 13, and the referral rate for the late starters/persisters began to increase at age 16. Neither group showed any signs of desistance by age 17. White youth were overrepresented in low delinquency trajectories, and Native youth were overrepresented in trajectories that showed higher rates of contact with DJJ. This shows that disproportionate minority contact was evidence by age 13. At that age, Native youth were already disproportionately referred to DJJ compared to White youth; therefore, interventions designed to reduce the disproportionate contact of Native youth must begin early, i.e., before age 13. On the other hand, Native youth were not disproportionately found in the two groups whose referral rate persisted. Native youth were disproportionately found in a group whose referral rate began to decrease at age 16. 16 tables, 8 figures, 32 references, and appended technical notes on relative empirical Bayes rate indexes