Our Interactive Data Map is now Updated to Reflect the Latest OJJDP Youth Incarceration Data

On any given day in the US, Black youth are five times as likely as White youth to be incarcerated; Latino youth are almost twice as likely; and Native American youth are three times as likely.

Most of these youth (73 percent) were incarcerated for non-violent offenses. Although the number of youth incarcerated has decreased by 56 percent since its peak in 1999, racial and ethnic disparities persist and in some states, have become more acute.


In 2013, the Burns Institute launched an interactive data map with the firm belief that in order to address our nation’s addiction to incarcerating youth of color, we need to have a clear understanding of the problem.  We continue to update the site as new data become available.

Curious how your state fares? On the interactive website, you can customize a search based on a number of criteria including youths’ race or ethnicity; offense type; placement type; and year. You can analyze the data using three different metrics: raw numbers, rates, or disparity gaps.

For instance, you can learn:

  • How the numbers, rates and disparity gaps of incarcerated youth of color have changed between 1997 and 2015.
  • Which states have the highest rates of incarceration for Black, Latino, Native American and Asian youth
  • Which states have the greatest disparities when comparing incarceration rates for White youth to Black, Latino, or Native American youth
  • Which states have the highest rates of court ordered commitments to institutional placement for Black, Latino, and Native American youth adjudicated for non-violent offenses
  • Which states have the highest number of youth of color detained pre-adjudication for technical violations

Visit our state data map to answer these questions and more. We encourage you to incorporate these data into your own work in the fight for an equitable justice system.

If you are unfamiliar with our map or need a refresher, take a self-guided tour by clicking on the top-right link on the menu bar.

For further questions, please contact info@burnsinstitute.org

In just a few clicks, the BI gives you the ability to see the racial and ethnic disparities in your local youth justice system.


We’ve kicked off 2016 with the sobering reality that our youth justice system continues to lock up tens of thousands of youth a year; the overwhelming majority of whom are youth of color. As public outcry continues to mount against the disparate treatment of people of color by justice systems, The W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI) is hopeful that more stakeholders will commit themselves to policy and practice changes that work to promote greater racial equity in the administration of youth justice.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) recently released 2013 data on youth incarceration and confinement. While most states have reduced their numbers of confinement, the disparate rate at which youth of color are involved in the youth system remains inexcusably high.

Using new data from OJJDP, the BI’s Unbalanced Juvenile Justice data map allows you to learn all about the racial and ethnic disparities occurring in your local youth justice system.

In 2014, the BI launched the data map and encouraged users to incorporate the data into their own work. With the latest 2013 data, it is time again to see how each state is progressing in its fight for racial and ethnic fairness. By using BI’s data map, one is able to have a more critical approach by analyzing raw numbers and rates as by offense category, race and ethnicity. This interactive ability provides a nuanced understanding of changes in the justice system.

As noted in OJJDP’s 2013 highlights, the number of incarcerated youth continued to decline in most states in 2013. In the United States, incarceration numbers dropped 12.9 percent for all youth between 2011 and 2013.

Yet, despite overall reductions in incarceration rates, White youth experienced the most significant decline. This means that White youth are now even less likely to be incarcerated than youth of color than before.

While there are jurisdictions actively working to address racial and ethnic disparities in their local systems, the data shows there is still much work to be done in every jurisdiction:

  • Despite declining numbers for both Black and White youth in California, Black youth went from 7.5 times more likely than White youth to be incarcerated in 2011 to 8.2 times more likely in 2013.
  • In Utah, the number of White youth declined sharply, while the number of Black youth increased between 2011 and 2013. In 2011, there were 402 White youth and 45 Black youth incarcerated in Utah. In 2013, there were 246 White youth and 144 Black youth incarcerated. While there are more White youth incarcerated than Black youth, when accounting for the number of White and Black kids in Utah’s population, Black have a much higher rate of involvement than White youth.
  • In 2011, Black youth in Utah were five times more likely than White youth to be incarcerated. In 2013, this disparity jumped to 26 times more likely.
  • Nevada had a significant reduction in the disparity gaps for Black and Latino youth in 2013. However, Native American youth were incarcerated at higher rates in 2013 than they were in 2011.

The disparate treatment of youth by race and ethnicity by our justice system is unconscionable. In 2013, youth of color were more likely than White youth to be incarcerated in every single state. This was particularly true for Black youth.

As we embark upon another year of reform efforts in 2016, we hope these data will continue to serve you and those in your community.

Please make sure to sign up for regular updates from the BI to learn more about how you can end racial and ethnic disparities in your local youth justice systems.

A Shocking Cost Some Pay More for than Others

The average annual cost to confine one youth: $149,000
The annual cost to send a kid to Harvard: $ 59,000

This simple comparison reveals the staggering cost of locking up youth. This cost is increasingly unpalatable as more evidence shows that confinement does not discourage future crime and may even encourage it. But, this accounts only for the cost of facilities for the time a youth is locked up.

What are the long-term costs of taking kids away from their families, schools and communities, and placing them in detention centers? And who is shouldering those costs?

A new report from the Justice Policy Institute, “Sticker Shock: Calculating the Full Price Tag for Youth Incarceration,” estimates these indirect and long-term costs and recognizes that the greatest burden falls most heavily on communities of color. The majority of youth involved in the justice system do not finish high school, thus severely limiting their employment opportunities and earning ability. Not only does this result in a loss of potential tax revenue, but governments also incur the cost of supporting many of these youth as adults through social services. Additionally, the report looks at the cost to the system of youth who are sexually assaulted while confined, as well as the cost of future crimes committed by youth who were not rehabilitated by the system and may even have left worse off than when they entered.

Accounting for all these measurements, the report estimates that the conservative cost for inappropriately and excessively confining youth is an estimated $8 billion dollars annually. On the high range of the spectrum, the United States loses an estimated $21 billion dollars annually. This loss of earning potential and threat of future violence largely impacts families and communities color whose youth are disproportionately arrested and placed out of home. Despite large reductions in confinement over the past decade, youth of color continue to be confined at rates much higher than their White counterparts, and these disparities are growing.

The W. Haywood Burns Institute’s “Unbalanced Juvenile Justice” data map provides an interactive format for understanding these disparities by state.

As we continue to better understand the long-term costs of confinement, it is imperative that we recognize how the disparities of our system impact youth, their families and communities long after they have been released.