Report documents racial inequities in state's juvenile justice system


A new report from the Department of Public Safety finds racial inequities in Minnesota's juvenile justice system are more severe than those in other states. The research finds minority teens are much more likely than their white peers to be arrested, have their cases prosecuted, and spend time in detention.

The report, which is called On The Level, says the reasons for the inequities are complex. But a University of St. Thomas professor who leads the school's Community Justice Project tells MPR that law enforcement officers may not apply discretion equally across racial boundaries.

Here's an executive summary of the report.

There's no shortage of ideas for how to improve the system, which handles kids from ages 10 through 17. In a recent paper, University of Minnesota law professor Barry Feld noted that the rehabilitative aspect of juvenile courts has largely disappeared.

Meanwhile, the National Research Council this week suggested the legal system make better use of what the medical world knows about how teenagers' brains develop as they mature.

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