Web Tool Illustrates Disproportionate Minority Contact Across State

How to Use the Interface

Basic Instructions

This interactive interface will allow you to select from a large number of options the type of data you want to view.  Simply select one choice from each drop-down menu under ‘Explore the Data,’ and the graph will automatically display that data.

Please note that:

  • Data will display before you have finished selecting the parameters of the graph you would like to see.  For example, the graph displays data for Alcona County by default, until a different county is selected.
  • Not all selection options will appear for all graph types.  For example, since the Year Comparison (by count) graph automatically displays data for all years, there is no year selection if you have selected that graph type.
  • The system will retain your preferences if you change one option.  That is, if you select a graph of 2008 Arrest data in Alcona County (using the Total Count Graph type) and then change the Year selection to 2009, the graph will continue to show Arrest data in Alcona (now for 2009 instead of 2008) until you select a different option.


The five categories for which you must select an option are:
  • Graph type: Select which type of graph (e.g., year comparison, crimes by gender) you want to see displayed above the ‘Explore the Data’ section.
  • Year: Select the year for which you would like to see data.
  • Decision-Making Point: Select the Decision-Making Point, such as Cases Involving Secure Detention, for which you would like to see data.
  • Race: By default, this option has all races selected, and thus the graph displays the data for all races.  You can modify the graphs by choosing to exclude races from the display.
  • County: Select the county whose data you want to see using the drop-down menu or by clicking on the map.


Graph Types

There are nine graph types that can be selected.  Each displays a different facet of the data.  For information on why you might want to use a certain type of data, please see ‘Questions about the Data’ below.

  • Total Count Graph: Displays the total number of juveniles at the selected decision-making point, by race.
  • Rate Graph: Displays the rate at which each racial group experienced the selected decision-making point, compared to the previous decision point (e.g., rate of referrals among those arrested; rate of petitions among those referred).
  • Year Comparison (by rate): Displays changes in the rate (for each racial group) for a single decision point from year to year.
  • Year Comparison (by count): Displays changes in the actual number of juveniles (for each racial group) for a single decision point from year to year.
  • County Rate Comparison: Allows you to select two counties and simultaneously see, for one decision-making point, the rates for each racial group in the two counties.
  • Decision-Making Point Comparison: For the selected year, shows the share of the juveniles at each decision point that are from each racial group.  This can be very useful in showing how the percentage of juveniles that are of one race changes as the stages of the juvenile justice system progress.
  • Crimes by Gender: Displays the number of male juvenile arrests and female juvenile arrests in the selected county.
  • Crimes by Age: Displays the number of juvenile arrests in the selected county by age group.
  • Relative Rate: Displays the Relative Rate data for the selected decision point in the selected county.  Relative Rate is a ratio comparing the rate (at a selected decision point) of a minority group with the rate of the majority group.


Excluding Races from Graphs

There are two common reasons to use this feature: (1) to produce a graph that is focusing on a specific issue (e.g., comparing statistics for black and white juveniles) or (2) to get a clearer visual representation of the differences among smaller groups (by removing the largest subgroup, which will make the Y-axis cover a smaller range of values).

There are two methods for excluding a racial group from a graph.  You can exclude a race by:

  • Clicking on the race in the legend.  For example, clicking on the text ‘White’ will remove the data for white juveniles from the graph.  Please note that this method of excluding a race affects only the data display, not an exported image.
  • Using the Race dropdown box at the bottom of the ‘Explore the Data’ part of the page.  Simply uncheck the box for any race that you wish to exclude.


Displaying Counties

In addition to the drop-down menu for selecting a county to display its data, you can simply click on a county in the map to display that county’s data. 

Exporting Images

There are several options for exporting the currently displayed graph.  At the bottom left (below ‘Explore the Data’ and the data selection options), you can click ‘Export This Chart As Image.’

At the top right, there are two icons.  The “” icon lets you print the graph.  The “” icon allows you to choose to export the image as a .PNG, .JPEG, .PDF, or .SVG file. 

Mouse-Over Feature

If you hold the mouse over an individual piece of data in a graph (e.g., a single bar in a Total Count Graph or Total Rate Graph or a year’s point for a single race in a Year Comparison [by count] graph) a box will appear displaying the exact value of that piece of data.

Y-Axis Labeling

The label on the Y-axis changes as you switch from one graph type to another.  The height of the axis (e.g., whether the highest part of the graph represents 10 or 1,000) automatically changes depending on the data that are being displayed.  The labels to the left of the graph communicate those changes.  Additionally, what the Y-axis is measuring changes depending on the graph type: for a Rate Graph of Arrests, the Y-axis measures the number of arrests per 1,000 in the population; for a Rate Graph of Confinement, the Y-axis measures the number of juveniles confined per 100 found delinquent; for a Total Count Graph, the Y-axis measures the raw number of juveniles.

Questions about the Data

What is Disproportionate Minority Contact?

Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) refers to the fact that minority juveniles come into contact with the juvenile justice system at different rates than white juveniles.  The movement of minority juveniles through the justice system is also disproportionate.  Arrested minority juveniles are often referred to court at a higher rate than arrested white juveniles.  Of juveniles referred to juvenile court, charges are typically filed against minorities at a higher rate than whites.  For more information on DMC, see the county-by-county matrices at LINK (http://michigancommitteeonjuvenilejustice.com/michigan-data/socio-demographic-data.html).

Why use a count (e.g., ‘number of arrests’)?

A simple tally of the number of occurrences (of arrest, confinement, or whatever specific point is under examination) is the most basic unit of analysis.  It is especially useful for comparing magnitude—e.g., in 2008, eight juveniles were arrested in Alcona County and 2,465 in Oakland County.  That large difference in scale creates important differences in juvenile justice and in appropriate policy responses in the two jurisdictions.

Why use a rate?

Rates can allow for easy comparison (e.g., of races within a county or between counties).  Knowing only that 1,388 white juveniles and 925 black juveniles were arrested in Kent County in 2008 is less helpful than also knowing that the arrest rate for white juveniles was 31 per 1,000, while the arrest rate for black juveniles was 118 per 1,000—a much higher arrest rate, even though the total number of arrests was lower.

Why use a multiyear comparison?

Looking at multiyear data can illustrate trends.  For example, if the rates at which minorities experience contact with the juvenile justice system are growing more similar to the rates for whites, that probably indicates more equal treatment by the juvenile justice system.  If the rates for one racial group increase substantially year to year and the others do not, that could be indicative of unequal treatment of that group.

Why compare counties?

Comparing one county to another can provide valuable insights.  It can be useful to compare similar counties (e.g., two high-population urban counties) to assess whether there are differences in the arrest numbers, arrest rates, or in how disproportionate the numbers are.  It can also be useful to compare counties with significant differences.  It is often true, for example, that the highest arrest rates are in rural low-population counties that have low overall arrest numbers.  County comparison can help identify such patterns in the data and can simply provide context for one county’s data.

What are the ‘Decision-Making Points’ and why are they important?

The Decision-Making Points are the various points of contact with the juvenile justice system.  At each point, a decision is made whether to advance the youth to a greater level within the system.  The points are:

  • Juvenile Arrests
  • Referrals to Juvenile Court
  • Cases Diverted from the Juvenile Justice System to Other Services
  • Cases Involving Secure Detention
  • Cases Petitioned (Charge Filed)
  • Cases Resulting in Delinquent Findings
  • Cases Resulting in Probation Placement
  • Cases Resulting in Confinement in Secure Juvenile Correctional Facilities
  • Cases Transferred/Waived to Adult Court


They are important not only because they are a primary piece of data about the juvenile justice system, but also because they illustrate clearly the different ways in which minorities and whites experience the juvenile justice system.  The rates at which minorities move from each decision point to the next are disproportionate when compared to the rates for whites.  Minority juveniles are more likely to stay in the system longer, more likely to be placed in secure detention, and more likely to face adult charges than white juveniles.

What is Relative Rate?

A relative rate compares the rate for a minority group to the rate of the majority.  For example, if the arrest rate for Hispanic juveniles in County A is 50 arrests per 1,000 Hispanic juveniles and the arrest rate for white juveniles is 25 per 1,000 white juveniles, then the relative rate is 2: Hispanic juveniles in County A are being arrested at twice the rate of white juveniles. 

Why look at Relative Rate data?

Relative rates measure how disproportionate a system is.  If minority juveniles are arrested (or detained, referred to court, waived to adult court, etc.) at triple the rate of white juveniles, that indicates greater disproportionality than if they are arrested at double the rate of white juveniles.  Relative rate data further provide standardization to the justice system in the area—the Relative Rate for minority juveniles in Kent County is based on the experience of white juveniles in Kent County’s justice system; the Relative Rate for minorities in Alcona County is based on the experience of white juveniles in Alcona County’s justice system, and so forth.  It is thus the best single measurement of the amount of disproportionate minority contact in a jurisdiction.

What does ‘Data Not Available’ mean?

Some counties chose not to provide their DMC data.  If you select a DMC display of one of those counties, you will see a ‘Data Not Available’ message. 

© 2019 Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice

This Web site is funded through a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any of its components operate, control, or necessarily endorse, this Web site (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided.)