Racial Disparity in the
Juvenile Justice System

The purpose of this page is to provide insight into the racial inequality that exists within the juvenile justice system and to show how interventions like Multisystemic Therapy (MST) can address this issue. 

Combating Racial Disparity in the Juvenile Justice System

Unquestionably, the disparity in minority youth coming in contact with the justice system is a problem. Multisystemic Therapy (MST) has been shown to be part of the solution. MST is a family-driven treatment that is culturally responsive and centered in homes and communities. When partnered with law enforcement and the juvenile justice system, it plays a unique bridge-building role in achieving shared outcomes for minority youth, families, schools, and communities at large.

Though the rate of incarceration among youth of all races and ethnicities has declined, there is still a great deal of racial disparity in the juvenile justice system. This infographic shows that disparity starts early and can have a large impact on youth and communities at large.

Our infographic below highlights this impact:

racial disp update


Attention needs to be focused on the critical and pervasive issue of disproportionate minority contact in the juvenile justice system. What follows is a broad review of the problem, including the theories of its causes. Because this is a macro-level issue, the solutions will have to go well beyond what one treatment model can accomplish. However, research indicates Multisystemic Therapy (MST) can play an important, albeit limited role, in a comprehensive strategy to address this major systemic and social problem.

Read this report to learn how. 



Report: Combating Racial Disparity in the Juvenile Justice System with MST



  • Report: Racial Disparities in Youth Commitments and Arrests
    This report from The Sentencing Project reviews the nationwide and state-by-state status of racial and ethnic disparities in commitments and the likely impact of growing racial disparities in arrests.
    View the report here.

  • Report: The Latinx Data Gap in the Youth Justice System 
    This report, published by Alianza for Youth Justice and UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, shows the importance of accurately counting Latinx youth within the youth justice system. 
    View the report here.

  • Report: Native Disparities in Youth Incarceration
    This report from The Sentencing Project highlights the increase in incarceration among Native youth. 
    View the report here.

  • Report: School Policing in Massachusetts
    This report from Citizens for Juvenile Justice presents data that shows how police presence in schools is negatively affecting black and brown communities. 
    View the report here.


For more information on how you can partner with MST and help keep youth in your community out of the juvenile justice system, click here to contact us today.