In this paper, we will consider the juvenile delinquency among African Americans. Over the years, it has been noticed that the Black youths are disproportionately over-represented in the juvenile system at both the national level and state level. This issue continues to expand as the disparity continues to increase with more youths sinking deeper into the system. Various studies indicate that, African American youth experience higher levels of juvenile justice involvement at every system level including arrest, sentencing, and incarceration in comparison to their ethnic counterparts (Voisin, Kim, Takahashi, Moratta, & Bocanegra, 2017). This issue has received recognition from the government and measures are being taken to address it under the Federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).
Needs Analysis of Juvenile Delinquency among African Americans Youths
Studies reveal that the juvenile justice system involvement is correlated with delinquency or youth offending, substance use, poor mental health, and sexual risk behaviors (Voisin et al., 2017). African American youths are largely affected by such problems thereby exposing them to risk of being involved in the juvenile system. Unnever and Gabbidon (2011) extrapolate that the education level of African-American juveniles is a major predictor of their possibility of engaging in delinquent behavior. This indicates that those African-American juveniles have a higher probability of engaging in offending acts in case they are less successful in school. The general life perspective is that the African-Americans juveniles have continued to be shaped by experiences with racial discrimination and racist stereotypes (Unnever, 2015).
The disparities in the juvenile justice systems for delinquency offenses reveal that the white youth takes part in risky behavior at the same or even higher crime rates than the Black youths. However, although the Black youths are more likely to carry out assaults and thefts, self-reporting data have revealed that the White youths are more likely to have a handgun, or a weapon on school property, carry out vandalism, steal, or sell drugs. National data reveal that relative to their white counterparts, the Black Youths are more likely to be arrested, referred to a juvenile system, detained, and taken to an adult court. Black youth are less likely to be referred to a diversion program or probation relative to their White youths (Feyerherm, 2011). The situation has seen the federal government and different states put efforts in reducing the racial-ethnic disparities, especially for the Black Youth. Nevertheless, it remains a difficult goal to achieve, and has left many jurisdictions struggling to attain these reductions in racial disparities. Disparities related to the Black Youths continue to exist especially on the arrest and bind over decisions. The minority youths, especially the African-Americans have been observed as having higher rates of engagement in the juvenile system as compared to the white counterparts. More specifically, they get more intensive and intrusive dispositions such as higher rates of detentions, fewer rates of diversion, higher rates of being put in correctional facilities, as well as higher chances of being referred to an adult court. While there has been a reduction in the involvement in the juvenile system, the trend seems to be moving faster for the white youths thereby causing a disparate engagement and handling of the minority youth (Feyerherm, 2011).
A position in the Human Services field that I may obtain after graduation could be a Child Advocate in American’s Child Advocacy Agency. As a child advocate I would be responsible for working with and representing the interests of the child during legal proceedings such as family disputes, welfare proceedings or abuse cases. Albeit a child advocate day to day responsibility includes the unique personal qualities that allow the individual to function as a child counsellor as well as the professional qualities of a social worker and legal advocate. As the child advocate my additional work would be to support and work within the legal and welfare systems and in conjunction with local Departments of Child and Family Services or Child Welfare Organizations to provide a voice for children in proceedings they are ill equipped to handle alone. Not with standing that this would be done with the primary focus addressing the best interest of the child.
Mission, Vision, and Value Statement of the Proposed Agency
In the next ten years, American’s Child Advocacy Agency will seek to promote a juvenile justice system that does not discriminate against the African-American youths by providing legal support to the youths and sensitizing the stakeholders in the juvenile judicial system on the need for objective consideration of issues, free from the prejudice of the underlying stereotypes against the African-Americans.
To promote justice and equality for African-American Youths in the juvenile justice system by preventing unfair arrests, ensuring a fair trial for the youths in the system, competent legal representation, and holding campaigns to highlight the current inequalities against the African-America youths.
The operations of the organization will be guided and directed by the following core values:
Accountability: The agency will be answerable for its decisions and actions carried out by self or its authorized agents.
Responsibility: The agency will strive to make rational decisions in its attempt to reduce the disparities against the African-American youth in the juvenile justice system
Diversity and Inclusiveness: The agency will embrace differences, variety, and multicultural composition in all people it reaches out to and involves, to ensure that its members are enriched with varied expertise, experience, and perspective.
Decisiveness: The agency will endeavor to make decisions that are firm and can lead to the conclusiveness of matters in references to the cases it follows up on.
Excellence: The agency will strive to improve the equality and reduce unfair racial disparities in the juvenile justice system
The organization will be committed to promoting and adhering to the highest ethical values in carrying out all its endeavors seeking to promote justice for African-American youths in the juvenile justice system. To achieve this, the agency is committed to:
Dignity and Respect
The organization will respect the rights and dignity of others. It will accord everyone courtesy and dignity irrespective of their position.
The organization will carry out its endeavors with integrity. The agency will maintain the confidentiality of information as expected, act in a way that inspires public confidence, make no move to acquire favor or undue gain, avoid undue influence and coercion, and identify any arising conflict of interest.
The agency will be accountable in all its dealings to the community for ethical conduct and comply with the relevant laws and justice. All actions and activities undertaken will aim to achieve a positive social impact of a reduction of the unfair disparity.
The agency will ensure that it offers quality services, attains results that leave a positive impact, be accountable, and see it satisfies its commitment to others. The agency will, therefore, take charge of utilizing the resources at its disposal to attain measurable results, as well as being answerable to the sponsors, partners, and the community.
Act by the rules, be open-minded and actively be engaged with the stakeholders in the juvenile justice system. Owing to the sensitivity of the issue it seeks to promote, the agency will make decisions considering perspectives represented by different stakeholders in the promotion of equality in the juvenile justice system.
Be honest in all research work and presentation, and have the courage to confront the injustices. The agency will also be open and truthful in its engagement with different stakeholders and exercise a duty of care in all its endeavors.
How the Agency will Address the Identified Issue
As Children Advocacy Agency will seek to address the issue of disparity in the juvenile delinquency among African Americans by making calls to prevent unfair arrests, holding awareness campaigns to point out to the issues and highlight the effects of this inequality, supporting the youths in juvenile justice system to ensure that there are subjected to a fair trial, and provision of competent legal representation. The above stated measures will be in line with the with mission and vision statements of the agency. To accomplish its agenda, the agency will recruit a team advocates, mentors, researchers, and volunteers. The advocates contracted by the agency will seek to represent the African-American youths in need of legal assistance. Other the hired lawyers, the agency will seek to acquire pro bono services from various willing lawyers. The advocates will be assisted in their proceedings by assistants who will be carry out relevant research to be used in case proceedings. The agency will hold events and workshop that will aim at improving the awareness on the level of inequality in juvenile justice system. A crucial event in this will be a panel discussion bringing together different stakeholders in the juvenile system. another measure that the agency will seek to use is on the organizing walk to raise the awareness and sensitize people on the inequalities in the juvenile justice system. This walk will also seek to raise funds to support the endeavors of the agency.
Demographics of the Selected Population
In a recent report, the Nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative indicated that while the Black kids make up less than 14% of the entire American youths below 18 years, they make up the largest portion of the youths in the juvenile facilities. The report noted that Black male youths represent 43% of the male population in juvenile facilities while the black female youth make up 34% of the girls incarcerates (Serrano, 2018). The Native Americans who represent less than 1% of all youths in America make up 3% of all females and 1.5% of all male youths in the juvenile detention facilities (Serrano, 2018).
While it has been established that the number of the youths in the juvenile facilities continues to reduce all over the country, the racial disparity amongst these youths continues to flourish as indicated in the data from the Department of Justice. As of 2015, the African-American were five times more likely to be detained in comparison to the white youths. This was an increase compared to 2001, where the African-American youths were four times likely to be incarcerated (The Sentencing Project, 2018). For the period between 2001 and 2015, the levels of juvenile incarceration reduced by 54%. However, the rate of decrease for the white youth in the juvenile facilities was much faster as compared to that of the black youth. It has been noted that the national rate of youth placement in the juvenile facilities was 153 for every 100,000 youth. The African-American’s rate was however 433 per 100,000 compared to 86 for the white youth (The Sentencing Project, 2018). In general, it can be observed that tendencies of racial disparity between the black youth and white had increased by 22% from the level in 2001.
An analysis of similar trends in different states revealed that in six states, the African American youths were 10 times likely to be placed in juvenile facilities as compared to the white youth. These states included New Jersey, Wisconsin, Montana, Delaware, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Vermont, West Virginia, and New Hampshire were found to have reduced their racial disparities by at least half. It was revealed that in Maryland, Montana, Connecticut, Delaware, and Wisconsin the rate of racial disparity in juvenile incarceration had doubled between 2001 and 2015 (The Sentencing Project, 2018).
To achieve its mission and vision, the Children Advocacy Agency requires different resources and capacities at different levels and magnitude. The main needs for the agency include financial aid, volunteers, support for events, mentors, and mechanism for community service. These needs come with a demand for resources such as researchers, advocates, events organization and management, and personnel to manage the operations of the personnel.
|Advocates||The organization seeks to acquire the services to renowned advocates to be engaged in the court proceedings for some black youths in need of the assistance. While the agency will seek to acquire pro bono services, some stipend will be offered to the lawyers as an appreciation for their support for the hours above the minimum requirement of 50 hours of pro bono service.||$20 per hour for 5 hours per day for 3 days per week for a total of 10 lawyers. |
|Lawyers assistants||The agency will seek the help of legal students to be assistants to the lawyers and help them in the preparation of the cases and suits for the youths being represented in juvenile justice systems||$10 per hour for 5 hours per day for 4 days per week for 30 assistants|
|Events and workshop||The agency will organize events and workshops for raising awareness on the level of inequality in the juvenile justice system||$100,000|
|Walk||The agency would organizing a walk to create awareness and sensitize the people on the inequalities in the juvenile justice system and also gain the support of its activities among the community members||$50,000|
|Researchers and analysts||The agency will aim to have personnel supporting the lawyers in carrying out extensive research and analysis of data on a full-time basis.||$12 per hour for 8 hours in 5 days a week for 10 employees|
|Operating expenses||This will include the resources required to manage the agency in its day to day operation with a purpose of attain its goals and mission. This will cater for stationery, utilities and other related office expenses.||$500,000|
In developing this funding proposal, the agency targets at acquiring the financial aid through donations and from different non-governmental organizations such as Children’s Defense Fund. This implies that the agency will be seeking multiple donors to support its course.
Administration of Human Services
To ensure that it achieves the equality in the juvenile justice, the agency will adhere to the leading principles as outlines by the UN. These include non-discrimination, best interest of the child, the right to life, survival and development, right to be heard, and dignity (United Nations, 2007). The nondiscrimination principle requires that all parties treat the children in the system equally. The agency will seek to address the de facto discrimination and disparities. All decisions to be carried out in line with the administration of juvenile system will be basically based on the best interest of the child in terms of their physical, psychological, emotional, and educational needs. The agency will seek to ensure that the rights of the child to express themselves freely throughout the juvenile justice process are adhered to.
Promoting justice and equality for African-American Youths in the juvenile judicial system cannot be achieved by working in isolation. There is a need to partner with different community agencies and stakeholders. The Child Advocacy Agency will be mainly be involved in activities meant to reduce the inequalities in the juvenile judicial system. To achieve its mission and vision, the agency cannot operate in isolation and will require the engagement and support from the various stakeholders. The community is one of the most important stakeholders whom the agency will seek to establish partnership with. Partnership with the following stakeholders will be critical to the attainment of the agency’s mission:
Law enforcement agencies; this category of stakeholders is directly involved in the juvenile justice system through arrests, charging, and remanding of the youths in different facilities. The collaboration will seek to sensitize the law enforcement agencies on inequalities and stereotypes affecting the African-American youths.
Probation Officers; The probation officers are a critical component in the juvenile justice system as they do a follow-up on the youths sentenced to community service.
Juvenile Policy Institute; This is an organization that carries out research and analysis to identify effective programs and policies and offers training and technical assistance to parties seeking to promote justice reform.
Juvenile Law Centre; This is a non-profit law firm with a public interest in the application of legal strategies and legislative advocacy to assist the youth in the juvenile justice system.
W. Haywood Burns Institute for Juvenile Justice Fairness and Equity; The Burns Institute operates to reduce the overrepresentation of black youths in the juvenile justice system.
NGOs such as Children’s Defense Fund; these partners will be required to assist the agency with financial aid to support its activities.
Youth Service America; This will be an important partner committed to mentor, engage and empower the young people. YSA will make a huge impact to assisting the youths in the juvenile justice system and those at a risk to become law abiding citizens.
Gang Rescue and Support Project (GRASP): serves as a youth advocate and helps the youth who be engaged or may have engaged in gang activities. The agency will offer a platform for community mobilization.
The children Advocacy Agency will adopt a multidisciplinary team approach as a means of enhancing collaboration between key partners. This will give an opportunity to the partners in their specific discipline to acquire a basic understanding of the effects of other disciplines. The agency will work to provide a platform where the probation officers can work with the lawyers and the law enforcement officers to provide equality in the juvenile justice system. It has been observed that interdisciplinary work is important for successful practice of child welfare law and necessary for social work practice in child welfare (Faller & Vandervort, 2007).
While the legal team will be engaged in extensive research for the cases there will be handling, general research regarding the inequalities in the juvenile justice system will be carried out by Juvenile Policy Institute which is an organization dedicated to carrying out research and analysis to identify effective programs and policies and offers training and technical assistance to parties seeking to promote justice reform.
Personal Value Systems & Interpersonal Effectiveness
To achieve effective collaboration amongst the different partners, personal values systems and interpersonal effectiveness will come at play. The personal aspects that will determine the nature of action include perceptions, attitudes, motivations, personality, skills, knowledge, experience, confidence and commitment. The value system is noted to affect consciously or subconsciously the standard or criterion that guide actions of individuals (Bruno & Lay, 2006).
To successfully attain its mission and vision and enhance the collaboration between the partners identified, the agency will promote the spirit of cultural competence. This is based on the adaptation of values and principles necessary for the development and implementation of systems, policies, practices and delivering of service to effectively communicate with the youth and their family while taking into consideration, the cross-cultural facts and applying the cultural knowledge (NCLR, 2007).
As highlighted in the ethical statement, the agency will be committed to promoting and adhering to the highest ethical statement in carrying out all its endeavors seeking to promote justice for African-American youths in the juvenile justice system. This practice will be required for all the partners that the agency will be working with.
Having an aim of achieving equality in the juvenile justice system, the agency will join hands with the different partners such as W. Haywood Burns Institute for Juvenile Justice Fairness and Equity and Juvenile Law Center to advocate and lobby for policies aimed at ending the racial disparity and inequality in the juvenile justice system.
Board of Directors
The Children’s Advocacy Fund will seek to have a Board of Directors who can offer strategic leadership, ensure abundant resources, and offer oversight to the operation of the agency to ensure that they are in line with its mission and vision. Most child advocacy groups define the role of their board of directors to encompass strategic planning, evaluation, and oversight, and fiduciary tasks. The following is a description of the individuals to serve in the Board of Directors:
The Commissioner, Texas Education Agency; The Texas Education Agency is state agency that is charged with the responsibility of overseeing primary and secondary public education in the state of Texas. This implies that the commissioners understand much of the issues the children face. The commissioner will therefore offer essential strategic leadership since the children being catered for by the agency are school-going children.
Executive, Child & Family Center; This organization is focused in changing lives and healing relationship through helping people through education, treatment, prevention, and advocacy. Having their executive leaders as part of the Board will provided the much-needed network. This is because the center has experience in assisting children attain their full potential in becoming caring and responsible adults. This will offer a broad perspective in the mentoring of the children within the juvenile justice system.
A religious leader; Faith-based organizations are important force of shaping communities and in the development of families. The faith-based organizations leaders hold prominent place within the community as they support the interest of the communities and the families. The religious leader will offer important insights and help in mentoring the youths.
Director, Texas Trial Lawyers Association: This organization is geared towards empowering trial lawyers by ensuring that they have the best tools. Having a leader of this organization as a member of the board would give the agency an edge in ensuring that the youth in needs of representation the courts get the best services.
Retired Chief of Police; the police are crucial component of the juvenile justice system. Having a member of board with knowledge of Police department will be essential even in organizing awareness campaigns with the police department.
Bankers Association Chairman; The membership of a board member from the financial sector will be highly relevant for fiduciary responsibilities.
The agency will seek to attain its mission and vision through the collaborative efforts of a team of advocates, lawyers’ assistants, researchers, and analysts. The overall operations of the agency will be under the Child Advocacy Center Coordinator. The advocates will allocated 60 open cases. With a team of 10 advocates, the agency will have the capability to represent 600 clients. To ensure quality of representation for the clients, every advocate will be having 3 assistants and an analyst. With this kind of staff, it will be expected that teams will have more information than just the case details, but rather will have in-depth interview of the all aspects of the child’s behavior. This will include behavioral health, physical health, and educational needs. such knowledge will inform the recommendations being given by the team with reference to safety and justice to the children.
|Child Advocacy Center Coordinator||This will entail facilitating the optimal functioning of the agency to attain its goals on reducing inequalities against the African-American youths.||Ensure smooth operation of the agency by ensuring financial performance, budget development, staffing, strategic planning, physical resources acquisition and compliance with relevant government regulations Development and execution of appropriate internal policies Facilitating the networking with other relevant stakeholdersScheduling, and overseeing case reviews on a monthly basis Coordinating the events and workshops organized by the agency Monitor and track each the progress of each case||Ample knowledge on community stakeholders and programsSufficient knowledge on process of investigation through the legal processAbility to work collaboratively with diverse professional groups.Knowledge on preparation of budgets and reportsLeadership and managerial abilities to plan and supervise othersShould be a holder of Bachelor’s degree in Community Development|
|Advocate||With be tasked with the duty of representing the youth in need of legal representation||Counsel the youths on their legal rights and obligations.Carry out research and analysis of legal problemsInterpret laws, rulings, and regulationArgue the cases on behalf of the youthsPrepare and file legal documentsSupervise legal assistants||American Bar Association accreditation Admitted to the Bar as per the State’s rulesAnalytical skills to resolve problems and issuesMust have the ability to acquire the respect and confidence of their clientsProblem solving skills Ability to carry out research and prepare legal advice for a clientGood in both written and oral communication skills.|
Benchmarks and Milestones
The agency will assess its effectiveness in attainment of is vision and mission using the following benchmarks and milestones:
Legal and Regulatory Issues
A key legal issue that will be prevalent when dealing with these issues is the Youthful Offender Statute. This legislation describes the categories of juveniles who have committed a crime. It indicates that all juveniles aged 14 years and above being charged with murder are to be accorded the treatment of an adult. A unique category prescribed under this statute is the category of youthful offender. This category represents the juveniles aged 14 or older who have been accused of serious offenses. For these offenders, it is up to the prosecutor’s decision on where to charge them, either a juvenile court, adult, or a combination. The statute provides that if the offender is aged 7-17 years and has committed a felony, misdemeanor, or violation of a town by-law, an indeterminate sentence is given. This sentence is a commitment of a juvenile delinquent to DYS custody until the age of 18. The amendment of laws in Texas removed the sentence of life without parole for juvenile offenders who are have been certified as adults.
A key regulatory issue for the agency will the acquiring the license to operation as a community support service agency. The administrative code in Texas requires that the agency should not offer services until the application process is done and initial license issued. On top of the initial license, a separate license should be acquired for each location of business. The initial license provided is valid for two years. The license designates an agency’s place of business, services to be provided and the category of the services (Code, 2007).
Bruno, L. F., & Lay, E. G. (2008). Personal values and leadership effectiveness. Journal of Business Research, 61(6), 678-683.
Code, T. A. (2007). Texas Administrative Code. Texas Register, 7723.
De Vita, C. J. (2004). Organizational factors influencing advocacy for children.
Faller, K., & Vandervort, F. E. (2007). Interdisciplinary clinical teaching of child welfare practice to law and social work students: When world views collide. U. Mich. JL Reform, 41, 121.
Feyerherm, W. (2011). Oregon juvenile justice system needs analysis: Juvenile crime trends and recidivism report. Oregon.gov. Retrieved from https://www.oregon.gov/oya/dmcsummit/2014/Materials/OregonJuvenileJusticeSystemNeedsAnalysis_FeyerhermMarch2011.pdf
NCLR. (2007). A Fair Juvenile Justice System: The Importance of Linguistic and Cultural Competency.
Office of Health and Human Services. (2018). Juvenile Justice Legal Issues: Juvenile Delinquency. Retrieved from http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/laws-regs/dys/juvenile-justice-legal-issues.html
The Sentencing Project. (2018). Fact Sheet: Black Disparities in Youth Incarceration. Retrieved from http://www.sentencing.
United Nations. (2007). Children’s Rights in Juvenile Justice. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Geneva.
Unnever, J. D. (2015). Causes of African-American Juvenile Delinquency. The Handbook of juvenile delinquency and juvenile justice, 2, 121.
Unnever, J. D., & Gabbidon, S. L. (2011). A theory of African American Offending: Race, racism, and crime. New York, NY: Routledge
Voisin, D. R., Kim, D., Takahashi, L., Morotta, P., & Bocanegra, K. (2017). Involvement in the Juvenile Justice System for African American Adolescents: Examining Associations with Behavioral Health Problems. Journal of Social Service Research, 43(1), 129–140.
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