Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System

Washington States Uses Service and Deferral Programs to Address Disparities in Juvenile Justice System

Citing statistics that show that, even as national and local crime rates go down, minority youth continue to be disproportionately subject to detention, arrest and prosecution, the Washington Supreme Court, along with the Washington Bar Association, has commissioned a study of the efforts being made in the state to address this disparity. One of the principal recommendations to the Supreme Court was the increased use of service and deferral programs.

Service and Deferral Programs

Experts say that many minority youth who end up in the juvenile system do not present any significant risk to public safety, but simply have some basic needs that are not being met, from parental presence or supervision to education or hygiene. With these youth, a deferral or treatment program would better serve their needs and prepare them to function in society than would exposure to the juvenile justice system. A recent report to the Washington Supreme Court identified a number of specific programs currently effectively addressing these needs:

  • The King County 180 program diverts many youthful offenders into community-based programs, usually designed to provide counseling on alternatives to illegal activity. Minors who complete the program usually have all charges against them dismissed.
  • The Fast Accountability Skills Training program in Benton-Franklin County, where minority youth are given opportunities to learn and practice situation management, goal setting and achievement, and skill development
  • The Tulalip Tribal Court Elders Panel requires that first time non-violent offenders meet with the panel on a regular basis for one year. The panel has the discretion to require community service, anger management training, substance abuse counseling, mental health examinations and curfews.

Contact Adoption Attorneys Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC

At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring more than 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. We understand the challenges you face, and can help you identify all your options so that you can make good decisions that are in your best long-term interests.

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