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J Correct Health Care. 2011 Oct;17(4):294-308. doi: 10.1177/1078345811413084. Epub 2011 Aug 4.

Racial/ethnic disparities in patterns and determinants of criminal justice involvement among youth in substance abuse treatment programs.

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  • 1Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, College of Public Health, University of Georgia, Athens, USA.


Adolescent substance abuse is a criminal behavior; however, not all criminal behaviors result in criminal justice involvement. This study examined disparities among adolescents aged 12 to 17 admitted to substance abuse treatment nationwide. Findings indicate significant disparities in patterns and determinants of criminal justice involvement between White and minority adolescents. Minorities were significantly more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system, even after controlling for criminal behaviors, substance abuse, mental health problems, and socioenvironmental risk. Findings reveal that connections to the educational system may be especially important for minority groups. The importance of developing systems of treatment for adolescents in the community and correctional system that are part of the same continuum of care is highlighted.

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