The Multnomah County Experience: Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice

Diversity, racial, and ethnic disparities and fairness in the U.S. justice system are complex issues that present challenges to police chiefs, line officers, public safety leaders, policy makers, stakeholders, and residents. There are many dynamics at play that increase the complexity, and finding solutions can be complicated. Consistent effort and focus are needed to address disparities in the juvenile justice system and achieve better outcomes.

Public safety and community leaders in Multnomah County, Oregon, have come together to have the difficult conversations that often surround the topics of disparity, fairness, and system effectiveness in the juvenile justice system. Multnomah County is home to the City of Portland, where law enforcement and city officials have a history of working on juvenile justice issues, and Gresham, a growing and increasingly diverse city to the east of Portland. The City of Gresham was recently selected as one of six cities in the United States (along with Las Vegas, Nevada; Little Rock, Arkansas; Minneapolis, Minnesota; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) to participate in the National League of Cities Municipal Leadership for Juvenile Justice Reform technical assistance initiative.