Disproportionate Minority Contact

As a participant in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act, Colorado receives JJDP Act Title II/Formula Grant funds annually, dependent on compliance with the core protections of the JJDP Act. One of the four core protections is the requirement that state’s address Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC). Disproportionate Minority Contact refers to the disproportionate number of minority youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.  

In an effort to better understand and address the problem, states have been mandated to identify stages of processing where DMC exists, to assess the factors contributing to DMC at indicated decision points, and to develop interventions that reduce DMC.  Each state and community must engage in its own efforts to identify the specific mechanisms that are contributing to DMC; not all the factors will be relevant for every community.  In Colorado, the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) monitors DMC at key juvenile processing stages, including arrest, pre-adjudicated detention, filing, adjudication, and sentencing, including the use of probation and commitment to the Division of Youth Corrections using a Relative Rate Index (RRI).  The RRI is a metric used to detect DMC by comparing the rates of contact experienced among minority youth to that of white youth; rates greater than 1 indicate disproportionate contact at that decision point. Rates less than 1 indicate under representation of minority youth which should be looked at when looking at diversionary type programs that aim to divert youth from entering or further penetrating the juvenile justice system.

The Division of Criminal Justice, Colorado Department of Public Safety, is the state agency designated to administer several JJDP Act grant fund programs, to monitor compliance with the core protections of the JJDP Act, and to staff the state advisory group defined in the JJDP Act. In Colorado, this advisory group is the governor-appointed Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Council. The JJDP Council has a long standing DMC Committee, named, the Coalition for Minority Youth Equality (CMYE). CMYE’s membership includes members of the Council, other juvenile justice system agencies, and local governmental and not for profit agencies. With the input and assistance of the CMYE, the Division of Criminal Justice provides the leadership necessary to address DMC and remain in compliance with the JJDP Act. 

In an effort to help jurisdictions look at their Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) data the Division of Criminal Justice, Office of Research and Statistics has developed a new program that shows three data points for each judicial district across a five year period.  We started with the three data points (arrest, detention and commitment) because this is the most reliable data the state has in regards to DMC. While we recognize that these three data points may have some flaws we feel like these points have the best data integrity and quality of all the decision points in the juvenile justice system and will allow jurisdictions to begin reviewing their local DMC data.

Colorado Minority Over-Representation by Judicial District Data Workbook

Viewing the data, which simply tells you if DMC exists, at which decision points and to what extent (magnitude), does not help answer the question, “Why does DMC exist?” To help you get started in your quest for “Why” a document was created to guide you in your efforts. Asking Deeper Questions about Racial and Ethnic Disparities: What Data Should You Examine and What Questions Should You Be Asking is a guide for communities who want to begin to examine the factors that may be leading to DMC at a particular decision point.  This document is meant to guide you in your efforts to look at each decision point, one at a time.  It is not necessarily meant for communities to start at arrest and try to tackle the entire system at once.

For more information on the data points, of the data examination questions please contact the Colorado DMC Coordinator, Ms. Anna Lopez at anna.lopez@state.co.us or by phone at (303)239-5705.

These efforts rely heavily on the implementation of the activities in Colorado’s DMC Plan written by DCJ and submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) for approval and certification that the state is in compliance with the DMC core protection.

CMYE Meeting Schedule

2017 DMC Plan

For additional information, definitions and data please go to the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice’s website on DMC located at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/ccjj/ccjj-dmc.