Impact of Disproportionate Minority Confinement Contact on Communities of Color Research Paper

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DMC & African-American Community

Disproportionate Minority Confinement

Disproportionate Minority Confinement / Contact

Disproportionate Minority Confinement in U.S.

Effects on African-American Community

Disproportionate minority confinement has been one of the popular topics in the social sciences' study. With an increasing degree of cultural diversity in United States, a need for tolerance shown towards ethnicity and race is required to be shown. However, various researches have revealed that there is an increasing disparity in the confinement of African-American youth in local judicial system where the reported abuse and drug addiction is seven times higher in Whites. This disproportionate confinement has its negative consequences which results in undesired impacts on the African-American community when they are operating in the role of a client, a social work practitioner and a citizen.

Disproportionate minority confinement refers to the overrepresentation of African-Americans and other minorities at all judicial levels. Although substantial research has been done and reasonable measures have been taken place in terms of juvenile confinement but a serious effort is still lacking. African-Americans form an integral and visible portion of current American society and with increase in population and number of immigrants; the headcount of this race is expected to increase substantially. It has been observed that the where present judicial system claims to be ignorant to all kind of racial and ethnic differences, the figures present a different outlook. Hence the criminal system of United States is not free from racial bias (Cole, 1999). This racism prevailing in the judicial system has its impacts on the African-American community. It is also a noticeable fact that juvenile courts reflect more DMC and the rate of diversion of youth is considerably less that the rate of detention. Researchers and other professional along with government agencies are concerned with this disproportion showed in ratios.

Literature Review & Discussion

Disproportionate minority contact (DMC) refers to the disproportionate representation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system whereas disproportionate Minority Confinement occurs when the proportion of minorities in confinement exceeds their proportion in the general population (Owens, 2007).

For the purpose of identifying the impacts of DMC on African-Americans who have been engaged with juvenile legal system and social services in the capacity of client, practitioner and social worker, a research was conducted by Firefax County Social Services. The subjects used in this research comprised of two different samples therefore integrality of sampling remains intact. The research showed that many children who have been referred to juvenile courts had limited access to the prevention services before actually presenting to the court. Secondly, these individuals already had mental problem or they had undergone substance abuse. Lack of sufficient services to address these issues resulted in appearance in front of the juvenile courts. Thirdly, a lack of access to healthy and recreational activities along with school also appeared as one of the major causative agents. Lastly, lack of support from the family also played a vital role in provoking these clients in engaging with the risky behavior.

Considering the background checks, most of the clients were youth which is an established fact under various researches conducted by government and other authentic agencies. It is perceived that the police and other law enforcing authorities have a certain degree of intentional and unintentional bias which results in high rate of confinement. Secondly, the low rate of diversion also supports this fact (Werling & Cardner, 2011). Where the clients who already belong to a troubled background and who already need help from the social services department, are sentenced with detention, the stress level and mental distress increases which reduces chances of any betterment which would have taken place during or after this confinement. Another common reason for detention was found to be violation of probation. Such violation occurs when the clients are placed at their own or foster houses and are instructed to operate under restricted behavior. It was found that this violation rate is higher when the clients are made to stay at their own places. Careful analysis would reveal that their disturbed behavior emerged in the similar settings earlier. Confinement to the same environment would definitely result in deviation from the guidelines. In a state where the client perceives himself / herself to be helpless and in the hand of social services, any form of confinement would perceive to be injustice by the client and it potentially increases the chances of recurrent disturbed behavior. A considerable gap between the desired level of social services and provided level would ultimately provoke these clients to show their rebellion which would act as an underlying fact behind DMC (Firefax, 2012).

Where DMC has a considerable impact on the client who has sustained confinement, DMC also has a tendency of affecting the performance of African-American social workers who are dealing with the clients undergoing stress caused by DMC. Social workers are professionals who possess desired set of skills to deal with any mental or physical health condition. It is also important to note that social workers are susceptible of being driven by prejudice, bias, stress and other emotional factors. It is also easy for the social workers to cross boundaries of professionalism with the clients that they can relate to and develop dual relationships. In the case where the client is from the same ethnic or racial group as the social service practitioner, these professional lines are likely to be blurred (Reamer, 2003).

Therefore, in cases where African-American social workers are made to deal with the clients who have faced DMC and find it stigmatic, the responsibility of the practitioner increases in this case. Although despite the fact that the client and practitioner share same racial background, the trust level may not develop in the initial phase since the practitioner represents the authorities. In such scenario, the social work practitioner is forced to make an extra effort in order to gain the trust of the client, and making the impression of legal authorities better in order to overcome the stress caused by DMC. It is only after elimination of this trauma caused by DMC that the underlying behavioral problems of the client can be addressed.

In such scenario, the social worker is forced to face an undesired increased liability where they are made to question the sphere in which they are operating. Trust is the gist of social service; therefore the practitioner is liable to develop a healthy relationship with the client. In addition to that it is important for social worker to curtail the impact of any factors which may hamper his/her adherence to social work practices and code of conduct. It is highly possible that increasing exposure to DMC clients may foster a feeling of doubt in the practitioner which would make him / her question the effectiveness of the services provided by him / her. In the cases where the practitioner perceives that the efforts made by him are not accompanied by the measures of other legal and social bodies, the effectiveness of the services provided may decrease.

On the contrary where an African-American social worker feel a degree of relativity to the client, the extent of services provided may increase. The given situation might be beneficial for the client in some cases but may lead to dual relationships as well. Considering this factor, the integrity of social worker can be at stake in the light of social work guidelines. Lastly, where the social worker perceives that DMC is an injustice to his/her race, the effectiveness of the services provided to white patients may decrease. Susceptibility of social work practitioners to these factors highlight that DMC does not only affect the lives of African-American clients but also affects the social work framework from within.

At citizen level, DMC is expected to be present at almost every stage of legal and judiciary system. Considering the historical background of the United States, it is an acknowledged fact that cultural intolerance, racism and ethnic discrimination still prevails in the roots of American society. African-Americans are still perceived to be deprived of their rights where this perception can be objective as well as subjective based on other factors. In a society where the building blocks are still stained with claims of discrimination, presence of DMC will also make situation worse.

For a common African-American citizen of United States, disproportionate minority confinement is just evidence that they are less tolerated in the American society. Such feeling of inequality ultimately leads to stress and depression where the scope of responsibility of judicial system and other social work agencies increases. DMC may result in closed sub-systems in American society where African-American community can be a close stratum. Research has proved that the perceived level of discrimination in African-Americans in higher than the actual level of disparity prevailing.

In the light of these inferences, here arises a need for unified but extensive effort at States levels which would address the issues underlying DMC. It has been found that it is mainly the environment in which the client operates which provokes…[continue]

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