Disproportionate minority confinement of youth is recognized as one of the most serious problems nowadays. The current paper analyzes the article “Disproportionate Minority Confinement (DMC) of Youth: An Analysis of State and Federal Efforts to Address the Issue” by Michael J. Leiber (2002). The author examines the existing state of affairs in different American states to determine the level of the problem. Although the situation is not identical in all US states, specific problems exist almost throughout the country.
Leiber faces several difficulties when organizing his research. First of all, the states’ statistics and DMC indicators are different. Therefore, they cannot be directly compared (Leiber, 2002, p. 4). In order to address these aspects, the author provides his calculations and investigates the situation from different perspectives. He uses a variety of analytical methods. In the beginning, he uses deduction, strictly separating Whites from other ethnic and racial groups. Then, he uses the structural analysis in order to determine the exact structure of other ethnic and racial groups. Leiber tries to find the reliable sources of information or documentation. In those cases where it is problematic, he uses time-limited plans of actions to specify whether DMC is present or not.
The author adopts a systems perspective focus for minimizing the “selection bias” that is often present in such researches. One of the reasons why Leiber aims to investigate the problem of DMC is because its initiative is one of the key federal requirements for all states and territories. The distribution of grant funds directly depends on the level of addressing these issues (Bilchik, 1999, p. 10). The author examines the obtained results of the identification and assessment stages.
Leiber implements various statistical techniques for computing index values of minorities, especially of African Americans and Hispanics. The author demonstrates that minority overrepresentation exists in every state under investigation (Leiber, 2002, p. 10). However, the degrees of overrepresentation are different in various states. For example, Minnesota is characterized by more significant deviations than Alabama. Leiber has determined that minority overrepresentation is present at all main decision points. In relation to the majority of indicators, minorities are overrepresented by the factor of 2 or even 2.5. The exception is the situations with arrests (the index equals to 1.38), but it is still higher than the average level.
The most critical points are different in various states. Thus, in Iowa, the highest indexes are in the sphere of secure corrections and detention, while in Wisconsin, the highest index values correspond to secure corrections and adult lockups (Leiber, 2002, p. 10). The author also shows that the degree of representation of African Americans is greater than that of Hispanics. The average index for the first sub-group is 3.32, while it is equal to 1.90 for the second group. However, the identification stage does not allow specifying the exact factors contributing to this situation with DMC.
The author also investigates the assessment stage. Leiber tries to determine the key factors that contribute to the existing state of affairs. In twelve states, the existing level of overrepresentation is due to the impact of legal factors. In particular, severity of the crime significantly influences DMC. Multivariate techniques that are used by different states show that direct and indirect race factors affect the process of ultimate decision making. It is observed in such states as Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Hawaii. Police decision making is another factor contributing to overrepresentation in various states. Connecticut is one of the examples where racial disparity is affected by police decision making.
Although the problem associated with DMC is significant, the long-term trends demonstrate the positive dynamics (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999, p. 192). In other words, the overrepresentation of minorities still exists, but its level is lower than that of around a decade ago. The author explains that the issue of DMC is often associated with the question of discrimination (Leider, 2002, p. 15). However, the exact relationships between DMC and discrimination are not properly specified.
In general, Leider’s article is helpful for the analysis of DMC of youth and the current progress in this sphere. The chosen empirical approach dealing with the evaluation of various statistical parameters seems to be reasonable and correct in the given case. First of all, it directly demonstrates that the overrepresentation of minorities is present in almost all American states. Secondly, it helps to determine those states where the situation is the most dangerous and should be immediately addressed. Thirdly, statistical methods allow specifying key factors contributing to the current state of affairs. The author constructs correlation models between the indexes and potential independent variables. He shows that legal factors and police decision-making are dominant factors in the majority of states.
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However, some disadvantages in this article exist as well. The author is highly successful in providing deep statistical analysis and computing indexes. However, if they are not provided by official sources, his analytical judgments are not objective and well-developed. He primarily outlines the existing correlations between parameters and compares these values in various states. At the same time, he does not provide the necessary amount of explanations and theoretical investigation of the underlying causes of the observed overrepresentation. The correlation analysis is not always objective and may show only some secondary factors. If some lags exist, it may be problematic to determine the real causes of events only with the help of statistical techniques.
The main question of the existence or absence of discrimination in this sphere is not properly addressed as well. The fact of overrepresentation of minorities is proved from various perspectives. However, it is unclear whether any forms of discrimination actually exist because the fact of overrepresentation of minorities may be explained differently. For example, it is possible that crime rates among these population groups are higher due to more widespread criminal patterns of behavior among them. In this case, the existing overrepresentation per se does not constitute any problem because the problem lies in the mode of actions adopted by different individuals.
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