Mar 11, 2019 in Analysis
Hidden Inequality with Disproportionate Minority Contact

Annotated Bibliography

Bjornstrom, E. S., Kaufman, R. L., Peterson, R. D. & Slater, M. D. (2010).Race and ethnic representations of lawbreakers and victims in crime news: A national study of television coverage. Social Problems, 57(2), 269–293. 

The article explores the representation of criminal offenders and victims from a racial or ethnic perspective in the news. The authors acknowledge that, indeed, media representations influence the opinion that the public forms certain important elements. The article advances that media representation determines and shapes the specific group that comes out as the victims or perpetrators. The authors recognize that overrepresentation, underrepresentation, and the advancement of racial or gender-related stereotypes contribute to public antagonism. The article concedes that overrepresentation creates a blurred picture, which misleads policymakers and other stakeholders regarding the real picture. It further advances the root of differential treatment, which displays a factor that is clearly observed in the apprehension and detention of the racial minority juveniles. The article empirically assesses the nature and consequences of overrepresentation or underrepresentation of crime within the media, mostly the news. It evaluates crime overrepresentation or underrepresentation through the racial or ethnic lens. It focuses on how the media presents different racial or ethnic groups with reference to their engagement in crime. It also considers the impact that the presented racial or ethnic portrayals have on the perception of the public regarding crime. 

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The article demonstrates relevance in relation to the final project through the evaluation of how media representation of racial minorities as crime perpetrators shapes and reinforces stereotypes. The source further settles the perspective about a systemic bias within the juvenile justice system and against racial minorities. The article integrates prior investigations and findings, which adds to the credibility of this research. In addition, the author adopts a multi-approach in explaining media representation patterns of racial minorities, which adds to the research quality and eliminates personal bias. Furthermore, selecting crime stories from the major networks removes the local bias and, instead, captures the comprehensive perspective on the crime coverage. Sampling local and national crime stories provides avenues for capturing the local and nationwide concerns and perceptions about crime, which improves credibility. 


Craven, D. (1997). Sex differences in violent victimization, 1994. Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report. NCJ-164508.

The article provides highlights on violent victimization among different demographic groups. It compares violent victimization between male and female criminal offenders with the objective of determining historical patterns. It also highlights features or attributes of those undergoing violent victimization, including the incidents and the offending parties. The article forecasts the likelihood of victimization based on the characteristics of offenders among the female and male population. It also assesses the involvement of female and male offenders in certain categories of crime. The author acknowledges that female victims have the highest likelihood of reporting simple assault and violent crimes to law enforcement offices or agencies. It examines the victims’ distinguishing attributes as in the case of educational standing, race, and age among others. The article provides an in-depth comparison of factors that have impact on the victimization rates. It also unearths victim-offender relationship and determines the attribution of this connection to violent victimization. The source also assesses the use of weapons in the events of violent victimization, the resulting injuries, and the degree of their seriousness. In addition, the article evaluates statistical data from several agencies and years to generate a comprehensive overview of the focused subject. 

The source demonstrates some relevance considering the fact that the research evaluates a racial factor and the minorities involved in violent victimization. However, the focus of this article lies more towards assessing violent victimization along the gender line. Even so, the article acknowledges the engagement of racial minorities in violent victimization, which expresses the disproportionate minority contact. The author provides the statistics and pertinent data from the National Crime Victimization Survey and FBI’s Supplemental Homicide Reports, which adds quality and credibility of this research and the findings. The article also integrates more data from Bureau of Justice Statistics, which improves the credibility and reliability of this investigation. The article approaches violent victimization from different angles and creates a multifaceted picture of this issue. It also creates a linkage to disproportionate minority contact through the evaluation of the matter from a racial perspective. It contributes to the violent victimization literature and research, as well as to the disproportionate confinement literature. The research establishes the missing links in the supplied data, which could inform further investigations. It provides definitions of the concepts utilized throughout the research, in order to create the appropriate contextual basis for literature and problem evaluation. 


Entman, R. M. & Gross, K. A. (2008). Race to judgment: Stereotyping media and criminal defendants. Law and Contemporary Problems, 71 (4), 93. 

The article explores a media coverage of Duke Lacrosse story from a stereotyping perspective. It criticizes media routines and procedures in the presentation of cases involving a racial minority accuser and a white defendant. It scrutinizes how the media mocks justice through the presentation of standardized and flawed news. It criticizes the media for taking sidelines instead of reporting the real facts about a case regardless of the racial backgrounds of the accuser and the defendant. It further disapproves the media’s procedures of filtering the truth through the racial stereotypes that advance racial antagonism against racial minorities. The media shifts attention away from the potential injustices that the defendants suffered towards another less significant element of the entire case. The authors present the racial perspective of the entire media coverage and reflect on the consistent racial bias directed towards racial minorities throughout the justice system. They further acknowledge that in entirely all cases, the presumption reflects the guilty nature of African American defendants. The article also assesses overrepresentation of racial minorities, including the stereotypes presenting these groups as perpetrators with the whites, emerging as the law-enforcers and victims. 

The article displays relevance to the final project because it assesses the contribution of media coverage to the advancement of racial stereotypes, which create bias in the entire justice system. It also reflects the hidden inequalities associated with racial minorities in the corridors of the justice department. The article utilizes real-life media representation and analyzes the Duke Lacrosse's case from a flexible perspective. Therefore, the article reflects a sense of credibility, relevance, as well as quality, considering the information source that the authors adopt. 

Kakar, S. (2006). Understanding the causes of disproportionate minority contact: Results of focus group discussions. Journal of Criminal Justice, 34, 369–381.

The article utilizes a qualitative approach in exploring what contributes to the disproportionate minority contact. It leans towards the clientele perspective and obtains pertinent information on the disproportionate minority contact through the in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. The article recognizes the multifaceted nature of the disproportionate minority contact and presents various categories of factors contributing to this phenomenon in the juvenile justice system. The article presents the legislative responses to the disproportionate minority contact, which confirms the existence of this setback in the juvenile justice system. In this capacity, the article presents the acts and amendments that are solely aimed at reducing the incidence of disproportionate numbers of racial minorities within the juvenile justice system. The article further presents literature and studies focused on proving the existence of the disproportionate minority contact with a focus on African American and Hispanic youths. It gathers evidence from the juvenile detention facilities comparing the population with the white juvenile offenders who are put into the existing justice system. It introduces different perspectives through which people can view the disproportionate minority contact with the studies reflecting on juvenile crime, detention, and overrepresentation as a consequence of community factors, family structure, socioeconomic status, over-involvement in criminal activities, and systemic bias against the racial minorities. It also evaluates overrepresentation or disproportionate minority contact beyond the systemic bias. 

The article fits with the final project, considering that the paper assesses the hidden inequality with the disproportionate minority contact. The article reflects quality, because it takes a multifaceted approach in the evaluation of the disproportionate minority contact topic. It delivers credible findings through the use of in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. The inclusion of various stakeholders to capture their standpoints regarding the disproportionate minority contact improved the credibility and quality of the provided insights. In addition, undertaking research on overrepresentation, through using a qualitative approach, complements the existing quantitative findings, which dominate studies on the disproportionate minority contact. It also demonstrates the relevance, because the final project focuses on the disproportionate minority contact since the recognition of this issue as a viable research field. The presentation of qualitative findings adds value to the existing literature and creates a rather deep understanding of factors underlying the existence of the disproportionate minority contact despite the presence of legislation governing the matter. The fact that the article sources information from the official records displays the quality and credibility of the qualitative research findings. 


Lee, H., Jang, H., Yun, I., Lim, H. & Tushaus, D. W. (2010). An examination of police use of force utilizing police training and neighborhood contextual factors: A multilevel analysis. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 33 (4), 681-702.

The article examines or explores the application of extreme police force from a contextual, police training, and individual perspective, with the author integrating multiple police agencies into the research, as well as the findings. It acknowledges the concerns that the utilization of excessive force among the law enforcement officers has sparked, even with the existing legal guidelines delineating when the agents might apply force. It establishes the impact that this phenomenon has on the citizens and public opinion with regard to human rights infringements. It explores the contribution of neighborhood contextual factors against the situation and individual factors to deliver comprehensive implications regarding the application of excessive police force. It also reviews the police conduct literature, in order to provide a linking point between the contextual and individual factors with the police training approaches. It examines a series of independent variables, including racial heterogeneity, which forms the basis for the police victimization and disproportionate confinement of racial minorities.

The article fits within the final project because it creates a comprehensive picture about where the disproportionate confinement starts within the justice system. It provides insights on the factors that shape arrests, which include racial profiling and neighborhood factors, in the same way that they influence the application of excessive police force. The findings in this article are credible and of high quality because they integrate firsthand information from multiple police agencies to generate an all-encompassing picture of the influence of neighborhood, contextual and individual factors on the use of needless police force. The authors add novel information into literature, focusing on the exploitation of needless force by integrating police training elements into the analysis.


Richie, B. E., Tsenin, K. & Widom, C. S. (1999). Research on women and girls in the justice system: Plenary papers of the conference on criminal justice research and evaluation. Enhancing Policy and Practice through Research, 3. 

The source acknowledges the increasing number of women engaged in the criminal behavior. It evaluates the increasing engagement in criminal behavior from a different lens to account for the soaring numbers of female offenders. It recognizes that victimization through domestic violence; sexual assault, harassment, and derailment contribute to the rising numbers of female offenders. The article further asserts that female offenders enter into the justice system mostly due to minor offenses, which encompasses minor thefts, prostitution, minor frauds, and minor possession or drug use.  However, the author recognizes that the disproportionate minority contact exist even in female detention and correctional facilities. It acknowledges that women offenders are overrepresented in these detention facilities, with African Americans and Hispanic women comprising the highest percentage of those arrested and for minor charges. The article proposes approaches that the females under threat of victimization should take to avoid entrance into delinquency. Therefore, the article might address the disproportionate minority contact indirectly through a focus on the root causes of delinquency among girls and women.  

 This source combines literature and findings from three distinct authors to generate a broader picture of the increasing women offenders. The amalgamation of the perspective of the three authors reflects quality and credibility of the article considering the thoroughness with which they treat the subject. The article reflects some relevance to the final project, although it majorly focuses on the question of victimization more than the disproportionate minority contact. Even so, the article brings out the concept with reference to racial minorities. The article sources information from justice departments and programs, which reflects the quality of information that the authors present. It also evaluates the disproportionate minority contact from another perspective, which reflects originality or freshness of ideas. Consequently, the article provides a rather unexpected intervention that the juvenile justice system might adopt in lessening overrepresentation of female offenders from racial minority groups. Therefore, the article adds new literature regarding measures that the justice system might take to prevent the overrepresentation of girls and women from the racial minority groups.  


Seron, C., Pereira, J. & Kovath, J. (2004). Judging police misconduct: ‘‘Street-level’’ versus professional policing. Law & Society Review, 38 (4). 

The article explores the exploitation of unnecessary force or street-level policing. It presents a comparison of professional policing against the street-level policing, which reinforces the application of unnecessary force. It acknowledges the existence of legal guidelines on police misconduct. It explores the police-civilian interactions to capture the burden of police misconduct on citizens. The article acknowledges the use of offensive language and excessive force in the police-civilian interaction more so under the arrest conditions. Citizens report various degrees of misconduct among the law enforcement officers, with African Americans receiving disparate treatment when judged against the white non-Hispanic population. African Americans post significantly higher police misconduct rates than the whites. 

The article fits with the final project, because it exhibits racial profiling against racial minorities as the precursor of the disproportionate minority contact. The article also reports on policemen's misconduct, with racial minorities reporting most incidences of excessive force and abusive language against them. It reflects a systemic bias straight from arrest, with this partiality occurring at the preceding stages within the justice system. The article sources responses from the citizens about police misconduct depending on their prior interactions with law enforcement agents, which provides firsthand data. Therefore, this research provides credible and qualitative information with regard to the differential treatment of racial minorities. It explores a comprehensive police misconduct analysis, which involves citizens from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds in order to prevent personal and systemic biases. Hence, the source is credible and contributes substantially to police misconduct and disproportionate confinement literature.  


Simpson, T. (2010). Do objective measures reduce the disproportionate rates of minority youth placed in detention: Validation of a risk assessment instrument? University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertations. Paper 1117.

The article brings forward the subject of overrepresentation into light with a focus on the different stages that offenders within the juvenile justice continuum undergo. It acknowledges that overrepresentation of racial minorities often dubbed the disproportionate minority contact does not necessarily reflect high crime rates. It further asserts that court case processing disparities can indeed contribute to the disproportionate minority contact. The article moves from the racial bias perspective of disproportionate minority contact and evaluates overrepresentation from other possible perspectives. It assesses overrepresentation from the perspective of case processing disparities through the evaluation of 202 cases. It seeks to establish the elements that influence subjective decision making from the perspective of law enforcement officers. It evaluates whether the officers approach arrests and detention from an objective decision-making perspective or a subjective one. The article observes that disproportion exists mostly among the individuals from the black community, considering the proportion of this group in the juvenile system. It also recognizes the existence of overrepresentation at relatively all phases of the juvenile justice system. It further explores targeting, and law enforcement bias, which the authors consider a significant contributor to exceedingly high numbers of African American youths admitted to the juvenile justice system. It utilizes several theories in explaining overrepresentation and biased law enforcement with the focus being on attribution and spatial opportunity theory. 

The article demonstrates relevance to the final project, because it provides points for supporting the disproportionate minority contact through the assessment of case processing, racial bias, and partial law enforcement as principal contributors to the disproportion. The source provides quality findings and statistics from Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention or OJJDP. It reinforces findings with the insights from credible authors in the juvenile justice literature. The author also introduces the Risk Assessment Instrument and obtains firsthand results from police officers, which significantly increases the credibility of the findings. It allows the author to evaluate overrepresentation and the exploitation of subjective decision making among the police officers, which produces imperative additional information into the disproportionate minority contact literature. The source also contributes to recidivism literature through the evaluation of future police contact via the Risk Assessment Instrument. The integration of African American officers into the study improves credibility, because the results reflect a comprehensive overview of the disproportionate minority contact. Furthermore, assessing arrests and detention against subjective and objective measures creates a broader picture regarding bias within the law enforcement departments. 


Slowikowski, J. (2009). Disproportionate minority contact. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Retrieved from 

The article presents the definition of disproportionate minority contact from the perspective of the OJJDP. It also provides information of amendments to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act and explicates what this legislation entails. It further delivers insights into the objectives of this act and the requirements that it imposes on the states with regard to the reduction of proportion of racial minorities confined at various levels of the juvenile justice system. It also introduces the Formula Grants program as a product of this act and expresses the operation of this grant in relation to the reduction of overrepresentation in detention and correctional facilities. The article acknowledges the existence of disproportionate juvenile overrepresentation not just in the protected confinement and correctional facilities but also in other confinement points within the juvenile justice field. It also highlights the multifaceted nature of factors leading to the disproportionate minority contact. In addition, the article concedes that achieving a reduction in disproportionate minority contact necessitates the application of wide-ranging and multipronged approaches. The source also outlines the role that the Congress played in the amendments and expansion of confinement to the contact. It also summarizes the approach used in the determination of states’ compliance with the existing core requirements for the disproportionate minority contact. The author also presents the DMC reduction model as per OJJDP provisions and core requirements. The article introduces three phases of DMC reduction model and provides an overview of each component and its purpose in reducing overrepresentation of racial minorities.

The article provides information from the OJJDP, which exhibits its credibility and the quality of insights introduced into the final article. It displays a sense of relevance, considering that the final project focuses on the disproportionate minority contact, which is the title and subject of his article. It touches the amendments that shape DMC reduction over time and brings out the implication of DMC literature. Furthermore, the article combines insights from various departments within the justice office, which contributes to the article’s credibility and reflects the quality of information. It also summarizes DMC reduction efforts in all the states, where providing the DMC reduction model demonstrates the methodology that states utilize in evaluating the reduction rates. Moreover, presenting DMC definition as per the JJDP Act reflects the credibility of the literature used in the article.  

Over time, the justice system working with other government agencies has sought to determine the hidden inequality with regard to the disproportionate minority contact. Similarly, the policymakers and researchers have expressed their concerns regarding the number of minorities within the juvenile justice system, as well as the criminal one. Findings have identified disparities in the number of youths who have contacted or entered the juvenile justice system with reference to their representation within the general population. Disproportionate minority contact literature expresses that the first contact that individuals have at a youthful age with the juvenile system determines how they penetrate into the justice system further. Therefore, the decisions that the justice system makes upon the first contact yields a deeper influence on the disproportion. In a nutshell, disproportionately high number of teenagers from the minority racial groups get confined in juvenile detention facilities. The numbers surpass the proportion that the minorities represent within the general population, which raises questions and concerns over the disproportionate minority contact.  The disproportionate minority contact exists at the national and state levels, where minorities receive discriminative treatment and appear to be overrepresented. 

At the national level, minority juveniles constitute the largest portion of individuals confined in the secure detention facilities. The trend remains steady, especially for Hispanic and African-American youths, whose numbers have increased progressively over time. Therefore, minority youths face cumulative disadvantage throughout all phases of the juvenile system. Studies document the increasing overrepresentation of minority juveniles, with each of them presenting different perspectives on this phenomenon. However, some studies present evidence on overrepresentation as a consequence of inequalities and bias against the minority offenders. Although other factors influence or explain the disproportionate minority contact, race significantly affects decisions within the juvenile justice system. Racial bias in the juvenile justice structure reflects through the high number of minorities admitted to public detention facilities nationwide. 

In 1997, minorities constituted approximately 67 percent of individuals confined at national detention facilities. Similarly, juvenile offenders from the minorities received residency in the public custodial facilities, as opposed to their white non-Hispanic offenders, who got placed in the private custodial facilities. At the same time, the likelihood of minority youths getting formally processed and placed in detention stood higher than for non-minority youths. In addition, the possibility of minority youths getting arrested and placed in training schools further revealed the hidden inequalities that contribute to the disproportionate contact. In a certain study focusing on overrepresentation, the presented statistics revealed that minorities in secure institutions and detention comprised over 68 percent of the total juvenile population, despite constituting approximately 32 percent of the total youth population.

 The disproportionate numbers demonstrate the bias with which police officers and individuals within the juvenile justice department treat minorities. Even so, a systemic bias does not solely focus on race, but also other parameters, which include gender, socioeconomic status, personal characteristics of the juvenile, demeanor, and educational background. The above factors contribute to the subjective rather than objective decision making within the juvenile system. In addition, community characteristics contribute to the disproportionate minority contact, where racial composition, economic status, racial relations, and a degree of racial segregation influence the decisions that police officers and those in the juvenile justice system make. In short, police officers and juvenile officials confine offenders depending on a set of variables, which translates to the subjective decision-making. Consequently, juvenile offenders from certain neighborhoods, family backgrounds, race, educational status, and economic status receive disparate treatment compared to their counterparts. Most often, the minorities receive intensive scrutiny from the police, with police patrolling neighbors with minority juveniles ready to identify those who partake in any illegal activity. It reflects in the number of racial minorities undergoing victimization over serious violence, where African Americans and Hispanics constitute the highest numbers of individuals alleged to contribute to such crimes. However, in some cases, the racial minorities become the subjects of association with crime and danger, as expressed in the media through the crime stories coverage. 

Some researchers argue that minorities commit more crimes compared to the white non-Hispanic youths. However, this cannot be established, given the racial biases and stereotypes that law enforcement, the public, and media have established over time. It remains evident that all groups, including the law enforcement agencies, perceive minorities as crime perpetrators. In contrast, the white non-Hispanics population receives a rather biased or impartial attribution to crime, where law enforcement officers and the society perceive this group as the law abiding individuals and crime averters. The media contributes substantially to the advancement of such stereotypes through reporting and imbalanced perspective, whenever criminal cases emerge. The media present African Americans and Hispanics more as perpetrators and white non-Hispanics as victims, which partially creates the perception of the criminality of minorities, regardless of the case findings or proceedings. Therefore, this creates a basis for the disproportionate minority contact, where the juvenile justice system recognizes such stereotypes and utilizes them in making decisions. 

According to Entman and Gross, the set media routines, as well as practices, can undercut the presupposition of innocence, which oversteps the element impartiality or justice for a person of color. Just like in Duke Lacrosse case, the juvenile justice pursues political correctness, which, in turn, advances a systemic bias. As a result, systemic bias contributes to the disproportionate minority contact and overrepresentation of juvenile minorities entering secure facilities at each level.  Similarly, the media and juvenile justice advance racial antagonism, which further reinforces stereotypes and bias that contributes to the incarceration and confinement of juvenile youths from the minorities. Entman and Gross assert that the news creates a fundamentally involuntary slant, which strengthens the whites’ antagonism against African American defendants and associate this group with crime and danger. 

Bjornstrom, Kaufman, Peterson and Slater express that approximately 77 percent of the crime stories present African Americans as perpetrators, with only 42 percent presenting white individuals as perpetrators. The media reflects the perspectives of the justice system, because it obtains insights from the law enforcement and justice system officials. Therefore, this demonstrates the partiality with which law enforcers treat minorities and further explains the disproportionately high numbers of minorities entering the justice system. The media creates the recurring messages associating minorities with certain behaviors and traits, such as undesirable and dangerous, a factor that even law enforcers and prosecutors consider when arresting and prosecuting the minority juveniles. As the media presents minorities as lawbreakers, it reinforces the perception that the whites are more or less the victims and takes attention away from the violent and dangerous white offenders. In the end, minorities get overrepresented and, simultaneously, the white non-Hispanics are underrepresented within the juvenile justice system, creating far-reaching population disparities. 

Literature indicates that police officers take neighborhood contextual factors into consideration during decision-making, where, in most cases, they utilize excessive force. Similarly, they consider neighborhood contextual factors when deliberating on the prosecution of juvenile offenders, where disproportionately high numbers of offenders from certain neighborhoods enter juvenile detention facilities. Lee, Jang, Yun, Lim and Tushaus assert that racial minorities experience disproportionate victimization from police in every encounter, which explains the extensive numbers that end up in the detention facilities. In such neighborhoods, police presence remains high, and operation often targets minorities, based on the long-established stereotypes that present these groups as crime perpetrators. Therefore, the proportion of the juveniles held relative to the total population stands high translating into the disproportionate minority contact. At the same time, racial minorities report high cases of police misconduct because of such stereotypes, which implies that the police and justice systems provide disparate treatment to these groups. 

The extensive victimization of racial minorities under arrest and prosecution conditions provide feasible explanation to the disproportionate numbers of minorities entering the juvenile system and their advancement deeper into the criminal justice system. Victimization and overrepresentation of the victimized groups contribute to the misleading views. In the racial minorities’ case, law enforcers perceive whites as the victims, which fuels the disparate treatment that minorities receive in the justice system. Consequently, the excessive targeting of racial minorities explains the disproportionate number of juvenile offenders and the first contact decisions that the juvenile system takes influence and subsequent admission into the criminal justice system. The juvenile justice system does not leave out women from the racial minorities despite their not engaging in the nonviolent behavior. In particular, disproportionately high numbers of females from racial minorities, mostly those from the low-income societies, fill confinement facilities throughout the justice system. The racial aspect and socioeconomic status contribute to disproportionate numbers of women incarcerated, even for minor crimes.  

In recognition and response to disproportionate minority contact, the justice department introduced the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act to alleviate the menace in juvenile justice facilities. The act focused on the reduction of proportion of youthful minorities held or confined in detention and correctional facilities in the percentages climbed beyond the minorities in the overall population. Over time, the act has undergone numerous amendments with the objective of strengthening the countrywide efforts to alleviate the disproportionate minority contact. 

The disproportionate minority contact remains a significant research area, with more studies focusing on determining whether this problem reflects racial inequalities against the minorities or whether the statistics mirror the real picture. The roots of disproportionate minority contact remain a multifaceted aspect, where certain factors exhibit greater influence over others. Even so, system bias and the advancement of racial stereotypes through the media impacts significantly on the capacity of the law enforcers and juvenile system to take an objective decision rather than subjective ones when dealing with the racial minorities.  


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