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Our Children, Their Children

Confronting Racial and Ethnic Differences in American Juvenile Justice

In Our Children, Their Children, a prominent team of researchers argues that a second-rate and increasingly punitive juvenile justice system is allowed to persist because most people believe it is designed for children in other ethnic and socioeconomic groups. While public opinion, laws, and social policies that convey distinctions between "our children" and "their children" may seem to conflict with the American ideal of blind justice, they are hardly at odds with patterns of group differentiation and inequality that have characterized much of American history.

Our Children, Their Children provides a state-of-the-science examination of racial and ethnic disparities in the American juvenile justice system. Here, contributors document the precise magnitude of these disparities, seek to determine their causes, and propose potential solutions. In addition to race and ethnicity, contributors also look at the effects on juvenile justice of suburban sprawl, the impact of family and neighborhood, bias in postarrest decisions, and mental health issues. Assessing the implications of these differences for public policy initiatives and legal reforms, this volume is the first critical summary of what is known and unknown in this important area of social research.


"This is an outstanding volume that offers a collection of original essays examining the extent of racial and ethnic differences in rates of juvenile offending and in the processing of youths within the juvenile justice system in the United States. The contributors then consider the ramifications of these differences for evaluating the impact of public policy initiatives and legal reforms that have been implemented or proposed over the last several decades."

William H. Feyerherm | William H. Feyerherm

Our Children, Their Children is a landmark in social science research. Offering no simplistic solutions about how to reduce racial disparities that permeate the juvenile justice system, it consistently demonstrates how multidisciplinary analysis can expose and explain the pervasive impact of race on American social institutions. And, perhaps most valuably, it revives belief that in the early twenty-first century, just like a century before, a public policy centered on nurturing rather than punishing children—all children—is the only guarantor of a criminal justice system that is moral and just.”--Steven Schlossman, Carnegie Mellon University

Steven Schlossman | Steven Schlossman

“In this excellent collection of original essays Darnell Hawkins, Kimberly Kempf-Leonard, and a group of distinguished contributors have produced an important book that forces readers to confront racial and ethnic differences in juvenile offending and juvenile justice in the United States. This critical volume expands the discourse on this topic by emphasizing the complex and subtle nature of the problem.”--Cathy Spatz Widom, New Jersey Medical School


Cathy Spatz Widom | Cathy Spatz Widom

Table of Contents

Foreword by Barry A. Krisberg
1. Introduction by Darnell F. Hawkins and Kimberly Kempf-Leonard
Part 1 - Racial and Ethnic Differences in Juvenile Crime and Punishment: Past and Present
2. The Role of Race and Ethnicity in Juvenile Justice Processing
Donna M. Bishop
3. Racial and Ethnic Differences in Juvenile Offending
Janet L. Lauritsen
4. Degrees of Discretion: The First Juvenile Court and the Problem of Difference in the Early Twentieth Century
David S. Tanenhaus
5. Race and the Jurisprudence of Juvenile Justice: A Tale in Two Parts, 1950-2000
Barry C. Feld
Part 2 - Understanding Race Differences in Offending and the Administration of Justice
6. Is Suburban Sprawl a Juvenile Justice Issue?
Paul A. Jargowsky, Scott A. Desmond, and Robert D. Crutchfield
7. Race and Crime: The Contribution of Individual, Familial, and Neighborhood-Level Risk Factors to Life-Course-Persistent Offending
Alex R. Piquero, Terrie E. Moffitt, and Brian Lawton
8. Explaining Assessments of Future Risk: Race and Attributions of Juvenile Offenders in Presentencing Reports
Sara Steen, Christine E. W. Bond, George S. Bridges, and Charis E. Kubrin
9. "Justice by Geography": Racial Disparity and Juvenile Courts
Timothy M. Bray, Lisa L. Sample, and Kimberly Kempf-Leonard
10. Race, Ethnicity, and Juvenile Justice: Is There Bias in Postarrest Decision Making?
Paul E. Tracy
Part 3 - Public Perceptions and Remedial Social Policy
11 Disproportionate Minority Confinement/Contact (DMC): The Federal Initiative
Carl E. Pope and Michael J. Leiber
12. Mental Health Issues among Minority Offenders in the Juvenile Justice System
Elizabeth Cauffman and Thomas Grisso
13. Minimizing Harm from Minority Disproportion in American Juvenile Justice
Franklin E. Zimring
14. Conclusion
Kimberly Kempf-Leonard and Darnell F. Hawkins

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