Study Finds Race Disparities in Fairfax County Juvenile Justice System

Last month, the results of a new study about Fairfax County’s juvenile justice system were presented to the Board of Supervisors and to the School Board.

Researchers looked at the races of those who came in contact with the Fairfax County juvenile justice system over the past three years and found a significant racial disparity that has occurred despite allegedly racial neutral policies that are in place. Specifically, researchers found that black youth, who comprise about 10 percent of the general youth population in Fairfax County, account for about 37 percent of the youth in the Fairfax County detention center placements and 27 percent of Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court referrals. The study found that for every white child referred to the juvenile court in Fairfax County there were 3.78 black children referred to the court system.

The study was conducted by the Center for the Study of Social Policy in Washington D.C. and the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services. It was paid for by a grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.

A spokesperson for the Center for the Study of Social Policy has been quoted by the media as saying that racial disparity in the juvenile justice system is a nationwide problem and that Fairfax County is likely no better or worse off than the majority of systems in the country.

The Department of Neighborhood and Community Services is now reportedly looking into how to alter Fairfax County juvenile justice policies to make them fair for children of all races in all Fairfax County communities.

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