The Marshall Project

This Agency Tried to Fix the Race Gap in Juvenile Justice. Then Came Trump

A new presidential appointee has quietly changed decades-old federal policies meant to improve racial disparities in youth incarceration.

For two decades, the number of children behind bars in the U.S. has been on the decline—but the racial disparity has been dramatically worsening, with black youth several times more likely than their white counterparts to be incarcerated.

A little-known Justice Department agency is supposed to tackle this problem: the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which has been mandated by Congress since 1988 to try to shrink the racial gap by providing grants and training to local juvenile courts and law-enforcement agencies. In return, states receiving federal dollars must gather data on inequality, explore why it’s happening and pursue solutions.

But with an appointee of President Trump at the helm, the office has taken a

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