This study examined racial disparities in length of stay, institutional misconduct, and community program placement for youth admitted to the Virginia juvenile justice system from 2012–2017.
Racial inequalities pervade U.S. justice systems and are the focus of a growing body of research; however, there are fewer studies on racial disparities in juvenile justice settings, particularly on decisions points at the “deep end” of the system after youth have been adjudicated delinquent. The current study found that Black youth had significantly longer lengths of stay and more serious institutional misconduct than White youth. Controlling for legal and extralegal factors eliminated the disparity for length of stay, but it remained significant for serious institutional misconduct. In recent years, youth of all races have been placed at similar rates in community programs rather than traditional correctional centers. Disparities for Hispanic youth and other races were difficult to distinguish because few were admitted to the system. (publisher abstract modified)