Youth Services of Tulsa report racial disparities in youth crime

TULSA, Okla. — Youth Services of Tulsa partnered with Tulsa Dream Center and the Georgetown Center for Juvenile Justice Reform to release a report detailing disparities in Tulsa’s youth legal system.

“The report started with a lot of existing data that we already had available,” said Beth Edwards-Svetlic, assistant executive director of Youth Services of Tulsa.

The disparities examined included information indicating Black youth are more likely to be arrested than White Youth in Tulsa and it all of Oklahoma. This year has seen an escalation in deadly youth violence in Tulsa.

“Black youth in Oklahoma are three times more likely to be arrested than white youth and black youth are five times more likely to be arrested than white youth in Tulsa,” she said.

The report also indicated that Black male youth were 2.2 times more likely to be arrested and 2.3 times more likely to be referred to Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) Campus Police over White male youth, and Black female youth are 1.3 times more likely to be arrested and 1.7 times more likely to be referred to TPS Campus Police over White female youth.

According to the report, White youth only make up 15 percent of in-school suspensions and Black youth make up 37 percent. White youth make up only 17 percent of out-of-school suspensions while Black youth make up 45 percent.

The top three factors mentioned in the report to be lead causes to youth crime were lack of family support, lack of money and peer pressure. The top three factors in the report that were found to keep youth away from crime were job opportunities, sports and music, and community service.

The report also includes input from impacted youth and members of the community, as well as, a guide to collaboration efforts for the community to help the youth.

Edwards-Svetlic said they surveyed 148 youth, 60 different community members and 20 system representatives.

The report ended with a call to action and a list of goals to help diminish these disparities in the Tulsa’s and Oklahoma’s youth:

-Expand supportive services for youth at high-risk of system involvement and their families.

-Increase supportive services for legal system-involved youth.

-Promote race equity and address unconscious/implicit bias throughout the Youth Legal System.

-Increase transparency and community engagement by expanding accountability mechanisms for the Youth Legal System.

For more information about this report, click here.