November 16, 2017

Racial & Ethnic Justice for Youth in the Juvenile System

AUGUST 2003

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association encourages state, local and territorial bar associations, judges, prosecutors, defenders and police to instill public confidence in the fairness of the justice system by making concerted efforts to assure that the justice system provides fair and equal treatment for all youth.

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges state, local and territorial bar associations, judges, prosecutors, defenders and police to address disparate treatment of racial and ethnic minority youth in the justice system as a serious problem by adhering to the following principles:

State, local, and territorial bar associations should provide education and training on addressing the disparate treatment of youth and ensure that courts maintain the goal of reducing disparate treatment;

Judges should obtain training on the disparate treatment of youth, promote the use of objective risk assessments, guard against overcharging, ensure meaningful access to counsel, and maintain a jurisdictional goal of reducing disparate treatment;

Prosecutors should obtain training on the disparate treatment of youth, ensure their decisions are based on objective criteria, seek alternatives to formal prosecution, and take a leadership role in ensuring reduction in the disparate treatment of youth;

Defenders should obtain training on the disparate treatment of youth, advocate for improved data collection and use of objective risk assessments, ensure that their clients receive culturally appropriate services, advocate for community-based alternatives to detention, and maintain in active role in reducing disparate treatment;

Police should obtain training on the disparate treatment of youth, keep detailed data regarding their contact and geographic patrolling of youth, be familiar with diversion and community-based programming, work with court personnel to develop community resources, and take a leading role in reducing the disparate treatment of youth.