Disproportionate Minority Contact

Sex Abuse. 2017 Apr;29(3):291-308. doi: 10.1177/1079063215601436. Epub 2016 Aug 2.


The overrepresentation of racial/ethnic minorities within the criminal justice system relative to their population percentage, a phenomenon termed disproportionate minority contact, has been examined within general adult and adolescent offender populations; yet few studies have tested whether this phenomenon extends to juvenile sexual offenders (JSOs). In addition, few studies have examined whether offender race/ethnicity influences registration and notification requirements, which JSOs are subject to in some U.S. states. The present study assessed for disproportionate minority contact among general delinquent offenders and JSOs, meaning it aimed to test whether the criminal justice system treats those accused of sexual and non-sexual offenses differently by racial/ethnic group. Furthermore, racial/ethnic group differences in risk, legal classification, and sexual offending were examined for JSOs. Results indicated disproportionate minority contact was present among juveniles with non-sexual offenses and JSOs in Alabama. In addition, offense category and risk scores differed between African American and European American JSOs. Finally, registration classifications were predicted by offending characteristics, but not race/ethnicity. Implications and future directions regarding disproportionate minority contact among JSOs and social and legal policy affecting JSOs are discussed.

Keywords: African American; adolescent sexual abusers; delinquency; disproportionate minority contact; juvenile sexual offender; notification; race/ethnicity; registration; risk assessment; sex offender policy; sex offender registration and notification.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Criminals*
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / ethnology*
  • Male
  • Minority Groups*
  • Policy
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Offenses / ethnology*