Skip to main content.

Statistics show Kentucky’s juvenile justice system is leaving black kids behind

Statistics show Kentucky’s juvenile justice system is leaving black kids behind

Picture of Kate Howard
[Photo by OccupyRenoMediaCommittee via Flickr.]

Kentucky’s juvenile justice system is trying to keep kids out of detention and give more youth a second chance, but challenges abound.

The state has long been one of the most prolific in locking up youth on minor offenses and a recent reform has lessened — but not eliminated — the problem.

First-time offenders are no longer locked in detention. Arbitrarily keeping kids on probation until their 18th birthdays is a thing of the past. Diversion programs allow children to bypass court and are automatically offered for certain offenses.

But preliminary studies have found an unintended side effect of these reforms: As the situation improves for white youth, black youth are disproportionately left behind.

This disparity has been proven through recent court statistics but hasn’t been more fully explored. A legislative effort that aimed to eliminate this disparity was watered down. Some other legislators dismiss the idea of disproportionate effects in the juvenile justice system as misleading or untrue.

For my 2017 National Fellowship, I want to find out whether black and white children in Kentucky’s juvenile justice system experience different outcomes. Is there a divergence in how often children of color are prosecuted? Do some policies harm families throughout the state and create a negative long-term impact that follows a youth through the rest of his or her life?

The potential impact of this disparity can’t be overstated. Statistics show diversion is successful and could mean the difference between college and prison for these youth. 

[Photo by OccupyRenoMediaCommittee via Flickr.]

Leave A Comment


Want to improve your data journalism skills?  Apply now for the 2018 Data Fellowship -- four all-expenses-paid days of training on data acquisition, analysis and visualization, a $2,000-$4,000  reporting grant and six months of expert mentoring.  Dates:  October 17-20. Deadline: August 27 for California journalists, Sept. 7 for journalists from other states


Member Activities

Suzanne Hurt has shared a essay

Read it.

Carol Marbin Miller has shared a fellowship project

Read it.

Amber commented on a post

Join the conversation.

Mark Noack has shared a blog post

Read it.

William Coggin joined the community

Connect with William Coggin
More Member Activities

у нас