Black Missouri teens increasingly tried disproportionately as adults

Kenneth J. Cooper, iNews (Center for Public Integrity) | May 11, 2011

Missouri has been prosecuting an increasingly disproportionate number of African-American juveniles in adult courts, despite an unusual state law that requires judges to consider racial disparity when deciding whether to transfer such cases.

In 2009, 64 percent of juveniles statewide prosecuted as adults were African Americans, nearly double the 2001 level of 36 percent. Black youth make up 15 percent of the state’s population between 10 and 17 that falls under the jurisdiction of juvenile courts.

St. Louis has sent the largest number of black juveniles into regular courts, where the felony charges against them can lead to imprisonment with adults, followed by St. Louis County. Together, those two judicial circuits with the largest black populations account for almost 70 percent of the 485 cases sent to adult courts during those nine years. Jackson County, with a sizable black population in Kansas City, originated just 6 percent of the prosecutions.  (Read more)