Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) in the Juvenile Justice System

Disproportionate minority contact (DMC) generally refers to the disproportionate number of minority youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.

Pursuant to Section 223(a)(22) of the JJDP Act of 2002, states and territories must address specific delinquency prevention and system improvement efforts designed to reduce, without establishing or requiring numerical standards or quotas, the disproportionate number of minorities who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. DMC exists if the rate of contact with the juvenile justice system of a specific minority group is significantly different than the rate of contact for non-Hispanic whites or other minority groups. The purpose of this core requirement of the act is to ensure equal and fair treatment for every youth, regardless of membership in any minority or majority population group, involved in the juvenile justice system.

A state achieves compliance with this core requirement when it meets the following conditions:

  • Identification of the extent to which DMC exists;
  • Assessment to examine and determine the factors that contribute to DMC if it exists;
  • Intervention by developing and implementing strategies to reduce DMC;
  • Evaluation of the efficacy of intervention strategies; and
  • Monitor changes in DMC trends over time.


Get the Relative Rate Index

The Relative Rate Index
The relative rate index is a measure of disproportionate minority contact with the juvenile justice system. The federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has determined that all States will use this method.

The computational procedure for obtaining the relative rate index is to first compare percentages of minorities and whites at a given stage to those percentages at the previous stage of the juvenile justice system. For example, the percentage referred to juvenile court for each race is compared to the at-risk population for each race. The percentage diverted is compared to the percentage referred to juvenile court. Those computations provide the rate of occurrence at each stage for white youth and for youth in each minority group. The relative rate index is the rate of occurrence of white youth to each minority group. For example, if the rate of occurrence is 45.97 for white youth and 97.54 for African American youth, the relative rate index is 2.12 (97.54/45.97). In the example, African American youth are just over 2 times as likely as white youth to be in the system at that stage.

A PowerPoint presentation that explains the use of the relative rate index is available on the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention web site at http://www.ojjdp.gov/.

  • Data for the state of Virginia and most recently calculated relative rate indices using the OJJDP DMC web-based data entry system are available in this spreadsheet.
  • Data for specific localities are available by request. Please contact Ed Holmes at 804.692.0977 to request information on a specific locality.


Contact Information

  • For further information, contact Greg Hopkins at 804.692.0977.