Date of Completion


Embargo Period



juvenile justice, DMC, disproportionate minority contact, racial disparity, minority, race, juvenile, youth

Major Advisor

Dr. Stephen Anderson

Associate Advisor

Dr. Ronald Sabatelli

Associate Advisor

Dr. Shayne Anderson

Field of Study

Human Development and Family Studies


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Research has shown that youth of color are over-represented at every stage of the U.S. juvenile justice system. Over the last several decades, researchers have generated an immense body of literature in search of contributing factors but have yet to agree on the reasons for this disparity. Single studies rarely resolve the inconsistencies of social science research. Because of prior limitations in extant reviews, this study fulfills the need for a comprehensive empirical review of racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system by systematically reviewing all available research (both published and unpublished) that met eligibility criteria. There are two main research questions: (1) Are youth of color detained in the juvenile justice system more often than Whites even after controlling for prior delinquent history and severity of current offense? If so, what is the magnitude and strength of this difference? and (2) What extralegal (i.e., status variables: SES, family status; sample characteristics: age, gender), legal (i.e., offenses related to drugs, person, weapon) and contextual (i.e., jurisdiction, region) variables are related to the likelihood that racial disparity will occur? This meta-analysis, which is the first comprehensive quantitative synthesis that included both published and unpublished DMC research, revealed that discriminatory race-effects were evident across multiple studies spanning more than 30 years. Further, a proportion of variability in study results is explained by demographic factors (i.e., SES, age), and region.