Tennessee has recently released a report examining the problem of disproportionate confinement (DMC) in Tennessee. The report used both a quantitative and qualitative methods to collect information on youth coming in contact with Tennessee's juvenile courts and makes recommendations to address DMC in the future.
In 2007 59 percent of juveniles in the state's secure detention centers were African-American.
Eighty percent of juveniles transferred to adult court in Tennessee in 2007 were African-American.
In Tennessee, 21 percent of the population under the age of 18 years was African-American.
At this time, Tennessee and all other states are engaged in efforts to determine whether or not minorities are disproportionately incarcerated in the state. In 1988, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act was amended to require states to "address efforts to reduce the proportion of juveniles detained or confined in secure detention facilities, secure correctional facilities, jails and lockups who are members of minority groups if such proportion exceeds the proportion such groups represent in the general population."
Minority Overrepresentation -- (MOR) examines the cumulative societal issues that contribute to the disparate number of minority youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.
Disproportionate Minority Confinement (DMC)-- refers to an overrepresentation of minority youth in secure confinement, i.e. there is a greater proportion of minority youth in confinement than the proportion of minority youth in the population.
A report commissioned by TCCY to study the problem of DMC in Tennessee is available on the website.
A common perception is that minority children commit a disproportionate share of all offenses, thus the disproportionate minority confinement. Whether the perception is factual is open to debate. The following are some of the less debatable causes:
Without a doubt, minority youth are overrepresented at all stages of the juvenile justice process. This is especially evident in secure-confinement facilities, with the degree of overrepresentation being lowest at the point of arrest and increasing at each subsequent stage. Although the size of the disproportion varies from state to state, the disproportion exists practically everywhere in America.
Each state must address the question of overrepresentation of minorities in secure confinement in the juvenile justice system. The state must determine where the problem exists, to what degree numerically there is overrepresentation, and suggest solutions to ensure equal treatment for all youth.
The Disproportionate Minority Confinement Task Force is a statewide task force sponsored by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth that consists of concerned citizens from across the state who come together quarterly.
The DMC Task Force has set its mission:
"To develop a comprehensive strategy for raising the awareness of disproportionate confinement of minority youth in the juvenile justice system and promote the best practices and policies to eradicate the problem of overrepresentation in secure confinement."
DMC Task Force Meetings are open to the public.
Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth
Andrew Johnson Tower, 9th Floor
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243-0800
Phone: (615) 741-1154
Fax: (615) 741-5956