Mapping the Youth Incarceration Problem

At the Burns Institute, people often ask us how our nation’s patchwork of youth justice systems work. Are youth of color more likely to be incarcerated? Are our nation’s detention facilities really filled with Black & Latino youth who committed non-violent offenses?

We’ve crunched the numbers for you. In the United States, youth of color are significantly more likely to be incarcerated than white youth.

In 2011, Black youth were 4.6 times as likely to be incarcerated. Native American youth were 3.2 times as likely. Latino youth? 1.8 times as likely.sdm

With 75 percent of youth locked up for non-violent offenses, our country doesn’t have an alarming crime problem. We have an incarceration problem.

You can dig into all of these alarming statistics with our latest interactive web map, Unbalanced Juvenile Justice. We’ve made some powerful upgrades & added the newest data available from the federal government. It’s easier than ever to answer pressing questions about the juvenile justice system through custom searches.


At the Burns Institute, we lift up detention alternatives as the right approach for dealing with children in trouble. That’s why we’ve invested in this map. Now you can see what’s happening in every state, where we are making progress and where children’s futures are threatened.

Please consider making a small donation to help us continue this important work. 

In order to move our nation away from its harmful addiction to incarceration, we need to have a better understanding of the current conditions. We hope you’ll use this map to further the work of protecting the rights of youth of color nationwide.