Federal Agency Wants Quotas for Juvenile Offenders

For decades liberal and progressive politicians in Washington have funded numerous “studies” on racial profiling and then forced consent decrees on big city police departments to address the disproportionate arrest and prosecution of black and Hispanic criminal offenders.  The purpose of these activities has been to advance the narrative that the American criminal justice system is racially biased, targeting black and brown populations either by having them murdered by racists police officers, or by railroading them into long prison sentences for non-violent offenses while white folks who commit the same offenses get probation.  One of the ways the federal government tries to resolve this systemic racism is through its grant-making policies.  A recent example comes from the Federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which operates under the authority of Attorney General Merrick Garland.  The agency recently announced a new approach which conditions federal grants to state juvenile justice systems on the elimination of disparities between black and brown juveniles arrested and prosecuted for crimes and non-Hispanic white juveniles.  Attorney Hans Bader discusses this apparent return to government-enforced quotas in this piece in Liberty Unyielding.

“But what if those disparities simply reflect the higher black crime rate?  What is the state supposed to do, adopt a racial quota that requires the same `rate of contact’ with the justice system for each racial group, no matter how its members behave?

Even groups that want states to reduce their racial disparities admit there are racial differences in crime rates. Last month, Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission urged the Virginia legislature to adopt implicit-bias training for juvenile-justice staff, citing the fact that blacks end up in juvenile justice system at a much higher rate than whites. But its report admitted on page 144 that “research suggests Black youth tend to offend more than white youth with respect to serious person crimes (e.g., violent felonies).

If black teens are committing crimes at a higher rate than white teens, it would harm black victims most to reduce blacks’ “disproportionate” rate of contact with the juvenile justice system. That’s because crime is heavily black-on-black, and black victims have been victimized mostly by black offenders. As the Bureau of Justice Statistics explains, crimes are committed mostly between members of the same race, and this is true for “rape or sexual assault,” “simple assault,” “aggravated assault,” and indeed, “all types of violent crime except robbery.”(See Race and Hispanic Origin of Victims and Offenders, 2012-2015.)

It’s not clear that the Juvenile Justice Reform Act was intended to reach all racial disparities — such as initial referrals to the system, as opposed to disparate treatment of people who have already come into contact with it. It speaks of `disparities among youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system,’ not `disparities in who comes into contact with the juvenile justice system.’

A 2021 study by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics found that although blacks are arrested for serious nonfatal violent crimes at more than twice the rate of people in general, this is not due to racism. Instead, arrests are correctly `proportional’ to the actual crime rate, and to the crimes actually reported to the police, which often are committed by black offenders. As it noted, in 2018, `White and black people were arrested proportionate to their involvement in serious nonfatal violent crime overall and proportionate to their involvement in serious nonfatal violent crime reported to police. (See Allen J. Beck, Race and Ethnicity of Violent Crime Offenders and Arrestees, 2018).”

Bader goes on to note that the Justice Department’s apparent quota system is probably unconstitutional.  Let’s hope that one or more rational state Attorneys General challenge this in federal court.


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