Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the causes of racial and ethnic disparities at the point of arrest by examining the experiences and perceptions of individuals who identify as Youth of Color.
Design: Participants were youth between the ages of 15 and 26 involved in community agencies that primarily serve Youth of Color in a large metropolitan area in the Intermountain West. Participants attended one of five focus groups (N = 27) which utilized a semi-structured interview guide. Analytic procedures included descriptive analysis of participant demographic data and analysis of the focus group data using Braun and Clarke’s six-phase approach to thematic analysis.
Findings: Three primary themes were identified from the focus group data using thematic analysis: (1) micro factors, (2) macro factors, and (3) the funnel effect.
Practical Implications: Findings suggest it is essential for professionals who interact with Youth of Color to understand the intersecting factors that result in racial and ethnic disparities at the point of arrest and that disparity-reduction initiatives should rely on frameworks that account for the multisystem causes of racial and ethnic disparities.
Value: This study privileges the voices of Youth of Color to investigate the causes of racial and ethnic disparities at the point of arrest.
Keywords: youth of color, racial and ethnic disparities, juvenile justice system, qualitative research, focus groups