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Racial-ethnic fairness/DMC

Data-driven strategies to reduce racial and ethnic disparities and promote a more fair juvenile justice system.

Youth of color are overrepresented at nearly every point of contact with the juvenile justice system—and the finding is disturbingly persistent over time. Youth of color are more likely to be incarcerated and to serve more time than white youth, even when they are charged with the same category of offense. Whether these often-stark differences are the result of biases in decision-making, social or economic differences that are merely correlated with race and ethnicity, or more complex structural factors, they are unacceptable in a democratic society.

Reducing "disproportionate minority contact" (DMC) with the juvenile justice system is a critical objective for the Models for Change initiative, and has been the focus of the four core states and the DMC Action Network states. States are working to understand the nature of the problem through better data collection and analysis. Based on data, states are working to identify appropriate interventions that include tools to promote objective decision-making, improved language and cultural competency, education and workforce development, and detention alternative and nontraditional services

Through improved data and intentional and targeted interventions, Models for Change promotes fair and unbiased juvenile justice systems that treat youth equally regardless of their race or ethnicity.

Read more about the issues of racial and ethnic fairness at's Resource Hub. 

Featured publications

Initiative tools, research, knowledge, and innovations to promote reform

Publication cover Guidelines for Collecting and Recording the Race and Ethnicity of Youth in Illinois’ Juvenile Justice System
Nov 24, 2008, Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission
The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission and the Illinois Models for Change Initiative strongly encourage agencies, organizations and practitioners at all stages of the juvenile justice system to…
Publication cover Innovation Brief: Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Pennsylvania
Nov 30, 2012, Dana Shoenberg
Across the United States, youth of color are disproportionately represented at every stage of the juvenile justice system, with the greatest disparities at the deepest end of the system. Although…
Publication cover Knowledge Brief: Are Minority Youths Treated Differently in Juvenile Probation?
Dec 1, 2011, Models for Change Research Initiative
While many studies have examined disproportionate minority contact at the front endof the juvenile justice system, few have examined disparities deep within the system—in particular,…
Publication cover Collecting and Analyzing Data on Racial and Ethnic Disparities: The Peoria Pilot Project
Apr 1, 2009, James Bell
The W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation collaborated to develop and pilot a data template that enables local jurisdictions to strategically gather…
Publication cover DMC Performance Measures
Dec 3, 2009, Lisa Garry
The purpose of this document is to collect and report performance measures that are relevant to the site's Strategic Innovations and other indicators of progress in the local collaborative to reduce…

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Leading organizations

Network partners advancing reforms and providing assistance, lessons, and support

W. Haywood Burns Institute
(415) 321-4100
Center for Children’s Law and Policy
(202) 637-0377

More contacts »


Champion for Change Jason Szanyi
12/14/2015, Models for Change
Editorial: Springfield's secret to criminal justice reform — compromise
6/16/2015, Chicago Sun-Times
Illinois law would change process for juvenile offenders
6/12/2015, Associated Press

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Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.