Handbook of Forensic Mental Health structure, and school status). Structural-processual theory contends that biases exist at different decision-making points within the juvenile justice system (e.g., at the point of arrest, referral to juvenile court authorities, or commitment to a state institution). These biases may have a cumulative effect on disparities. Additionally, biases at early stages of the juvenile justice process should have a greater effect on differences in confinement than those detected at later stages. Macrocontextual theory asserts that social-structural or contextual characteristics (e.g., size of African American populations, poverty, and urbanization) are related to differential levels of formal social control and subsequent disparities in confinement. Numerous studies have provided empirical evidence regarding the inequities in the juvenile justice system in how it processes and treats African American youths as compared to White youths. These studies will be highlighted later in this chapter. Race is an important determinant in juvenile justice processing. This chapter will review the intersections between race and disparities in the juvenile justice system, utilizing case examples of two communities at different stages in addressing DMC, reviewing the salient literature, and providing an overview of practical approaches to address this significant issue.
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