DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – In North Carolina, Black youth are incarcerated at a disproportionate rate, according to data from a recent report. 

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) recently published a report that found Black youth make up only 23 percent of North Carolina’s youth population.

However, the report also found that in 2020, Black youth represented 56 percent of all juvenile complaints and they also represented 67 percent of youth in short-term and long-term confinement. 

“Those numbers says that we have failed our Black Youth in North Carolina,” said Marcus Pollard, a staff attorney for SCSJ. “We are in the middle of an epidemic. We’re losing hundreds of kids a day to arrests and to juvenile confinement.” 

Pollard told CBS 17 that there is a problem with Black students in schools being too quickly put in handcuffs and sent to youth detention centers, when he said some situations could be handled differently. 

“We have to rethink when we see a kid skipping class – that’s a kid skipping class that should be taken care of in school, and not looked at as a truancy violation,” Pollard said. “We want to end the ‘over incarceration’ and only arrest students when it’s absolutely necessary for the safety of that student and other students.” 

Pollard said when students are sent to confinement in youth jails, they do not get the rehabilitation they need to address the underlying issues and they are taken away from the classroom. 

“Those students who are arrested and confined, they are losing class time and they are falling behind their peers,” Pollard said. “This is an epidemic, and it should not be looked at as usual or acceptable,” Pollard said. 

To read the full report, click here.