"The structural discrimination that supports detaining and incarcerating girls for violating these norms is both hard to see and hard to challenge. It is often hidden by outward goodwill toward girls and legitimate expressions of concern for their vulnerability and possible victimization....However, a closer look suggests that what professes to be social welfare is often social control of teenage girls who frustrate child welfare and juvenile justice systems with their chronic disobedience of home, court, and agency rules. Studies show that girls are more likely than boys to be held in contempt for violating court-imposed rules and that probation officers view girls as needy and difficult."The discussion on the system's response to girls that run away (75% of runaways are girls) is both fascinating and disturbing. Understanding that running away is likely to lead to homelessness and prostitution, the system generates harsher sanctions.
"The mechanics of the juvenile justice process [...] make it easy to sanction runaway girls with detention or even commitment. In their 1990 study of contempt sanctions among status offenders in Florida, Donna Bishop and Charles Frazier confirmed this gender bias in sanctions. Their study sought to determine whether unequal treatment and male and female status offenders and delinquents persisted after JJDP act reforms. They studied the records of three years of status and non-status offense referrals in Florida at several stages of the juvenile process from intake through disposition. They found that male status offenders had a 37.6 percent chance of formal court referral that increased to 45.7 percent if found in contempt, while female status offenders had an initial 31.2 percent chance of formal referral, which increased to 69.7 percent for contempt. For repeat status offenders facing possible incarceration, the bias was even more glaring--male repeat status offenders had a 3.9 percent chance of incarceration that increased to 4.4 percent with contempt, while female repeat status offenders had a 1.8 percent chance of incarceration that increased to 63.2 percent if found in contempt."
If you are interested in making sure that girls benefit from the incredible juvenile justice reforms sweeping our states, read this report to find out about:
- The history of federal policy on girls’ issues
- The impact on girls of current trends toward developmentally centered and data-driven juvenile justice
- The application of developmentally centered policy in relation to girls who experience family violence and those who are commercially sexually exploited.
The report also dives into the implications of reforms on girls such as data-driven decision-making and assessment instruments.