Deidra (Allen) Saina, M.S.W.


Degree: Bachelor of Science in sociology (May 2003)

Master of Social Work from the University of Kansas

McNair Project: Breaking the Chains and the Silence: Perceptions of the Juvenile Justice System (2001)

Mentor: Sue Williams, Ph.D.

African-American youth are over-represented in every aspect of the juvenile justice system in every state. Some say that Black youth commit more crimes than their white counterparts, but some people imply that it is the juvenile justice authorities that have biased attitudes towards youth of color. This research looked at the perceptions of the juvenile justice system held by young African-American adults who have been involved in it. A survey was distributed and interviews were conducted. An important finding in this study was the realization that this topic is very sensitive. Possible reasons for the survey's low response rate are discussed. For future studies, the questions involved in the survey or in the interview should reflect a better understanding of stereotypes and be worded so that defensiveness from respondents can be reduced.