Please see the attached document for additional information. This ITG request includes five problem areas related to race and ethnicity data and five proposed solutions. It has been suggested that each solution be sized individually.
The Center for Court Research has been working with the Minority and Justice Commission, the Superior Court Judges Association, the Juvenile Court Administrators, the Board for Judicial Administration, and both the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation to assess and report on disproportionate minority contact in Washington. Disproportionate minority contact (DMC) refers to the overrepresentation of persons of color in the justice system, and its reduction for juveniles is a mandate in the 2002 reauthorization of the Federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.
One large improvement would result from implementation of the Federal approach to classifying race and ethnicity, a move that would bring Washington into comparability with most of the nation.
We have been focusing on the development of reports for courts to inform them about their race/ethnicity data and provide information about best practices in data collection.
1. PROBLEM: Upon a closer review of the JIS data, it was discovered that our coding system does not match the federal policy in separating Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander into two categories - JIS currently combines them into one (code A).
a. Proposed Solution: We propose that the JIS coding system should be changed to separate the groups currently combined as noted above to bring the JIS system into compliance with Federal standards. This change would, of necessity, occur from the date of change-implementation forward, with no expectation of conversion of legacy data. Courts would have the option to review and correct their own data.
2. PROBLEM: The JIS codebook lists Hispanic as an option under the race category. Although there is a JIS business process for recoding Hispanic as an ethnicity from the race category, reviews demonstrate large percentages of unknown ethnicity data which cause problems in interpretation of results, making it impossible to be sure that the court data accurately represents the extent of the overrepresentation.
a. Proposed Solution: We propose that ethnicity be a required field in JIS. The existing JIS business process for coding H in the race field as Unknown Race, Hispanic Ethnicity is consistent with national best practices. However, for other racial groups, there should be an ethnicity designation of Hispanic or Non-Hispanic, therefore ethnicity must be required.
3. PROBLEM: Ethnicity is a read-only field for users in superior or CLJ courts. Only the juvenile court users are able to update the ethnicity field. Even if courts were to adopt the proposed
a. Proposed Solution: We propose that ethnicity be an updatable field for court users at all levels.
4. PROBLEM: According to OFM race and ethnicity data, the percentage of youth identifying as Multiple Race (more than one race category) is increasing. OFM population data has a separate designation (“Mixed Race”), but JIS does not. Clerks have contacted Research to request that an option for Multiple be added in order to capture youth who identify their race in multiple categories.
a. Proposed Solution – OPTION A: We propose that “Multiple” be added as a choice (code M) in the Race field.
5. PROBLEM: Race and ethnicity are often volatile topics due to the emotion attached to such a designation, and there are cases where a person chooses not to self-identify. With the expectation that courts are engaging in regular data reviews and could correct such designations, it is preferable to have a code added (R – Refused) to designate a refusal to choose. In research, data is far more reliable if there is a clear refusal than a simple unknown – that way data analysts know how much data is known/refused vs actually unknown.
a. Proposed Solution: We propose to add a code R for “Refused” to both the race and ethnicity fields in addition to the currently existing U for “Unknown”.
Data from Other Agencies:
Concerns were expressed about “scraping” data from databases maintained by other agencies.
- Research staff met with the President of the Washington State Association of Police Chiefs and Sheriffs (WASPC) and learned that they do not collect ethnicity data as it is not required for their reporting to the federal government (UCR/NIBRS).
- Research staff met with the Kitsap County Prosecutor, who is active with the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (WAPA) and learned that they collect data from multiple databases, but only enter specific data into JIS.
- Research staff met with the Department of Licensing (DOL) staff and determined that DOL does not maintain race and ethnicity data at all, so it cannot be “scraped” into JIS.
Ultimately, we would hope that the codes would follow the pattern below:
American Indian/Alaska Native (I)
Black/African American (B)
NEW! Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (P)
NEW! Multiple (M)
NEW! Refused (R)
NEW! Refused (R)