Applying Proven Strategies to Reduce Racial & Ethnic Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System

This webinar was offered to states participating in the initiative “Improving Diversion Policies and Programs for Justice Involved Youth with Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders: An Integrated Policy Academy/Action Network Initiative.” This initiative, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is an effort to increase the number of youth with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders diverted out of the juvenile justice system to appropriate community-based behavioral health services, and to reduce the inappropriate and unnecessary contact of these youth with the juvenile justice system.

This webinar provides a conceptual framework for understanding Disproportionate Minority Contact and racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system, review the Center for Children’s Law and Policy’s data-driven approach for reducing disparities, and learn about strategic innovations that have produced measurable Disproportionate Minority Contact reductions in other jurisdictions.

Mark Soler is the Executive Director of the Center for Children’s Law and Policy. From 1978 to 2006, Mark was Senior Staff Attorney, Executive Director, then President of the Youth Law Center, a national public interest law firm. At the Youth Law Center, he and his colleagues worked in more than 40 states on juvenile justice, child welfare, health, mental health, and education issues, and litigated successfully in l6 states on behalf of children whose rights have been violated in juvenile justice and child welfare systems. He has written more than 20 articles and book chapters on civil rights issues and the rights of children, and has taught at Boston College Law School, the Washington College of Law at American University, Boston University School of Law, the University of Nebraska Law School, and San Francisco State University. He has received awards for his work from the American Psychological Association, American Bar Association, Alliance for Juvenile Justice, and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Tiana Davis is the Disproportionate Minority Contact Policy Director at the Center for Children’s Law and Policy. Prior to joining Center for Children’s Law and Policy, Tiana worked as the Director of Community Programming for the Mayor’s Office on Criminal Justice in Baltimore City, Maryland. In this capacity, Tiana partnered with local communities and justice agencies to improve public safety, and enhance community-based opportunities for youth and adults involved with the justice system. Prior to her time with the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office, Tiana worked as the Disproportionate Minority Contact Coordinator for Baltimore County. As the coordinator for this local effort, Tiana worked closely with a group of local juvenile justice stakeholders to develop and implement strategies to address Disproportionate Minority Contact. With training and technical support from the W. Haywood Burns Institute, Tiana facilitated collaboration among stakeholders and utilized a data-driven approach to implement strategies that reduced detention admissions and racial disparities in the jurisdiction’s juvenile justice system.


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