Although there are many facts in a recent Stateline article that points to the need to change how girls are treated in the juvenile justice system, one sentence in particular jumps out at the reader: “Girls detained as juveniles are nearly five times more likely than the general population to die before age 29.”
Not only is a young girl’s life negatively impacted when she is sentenced to a juvenile justice facility, but years of her adult life are also snatched away from her. The article offers a link to Gender Injustice: System-Level Juvenile Justice Reforms for Girls, a must read report on girls in the juvenile justice system.
While some would argue that we need to stop sending juvenile girls into the criminal justice system in the first place, Stateline reports on how those who are currently entangled in it need programs targeted to fit their particular needs.
Read the Stateline article below.
States Grapple with Girls in the Juvenile Justice System
By Teresa Wiltz
November 25, 2015
When she was 11, KiAmber was arrested for defacing school property—a misdemeanor the Tallahassee, Florida, girl insists she did not commit. That experience scared her.
By the time she turned 12, she was pregnant. School wasn’t safe—fights broke out all the time. So KiAmber asked to enroll in a program for at-risk girls, funded by the state, where she receives intensive counseling and tutoring. Now, the ninth-grader said, she’s matured and is looking forward to creating a stable life for herself and her 3-year-old daughter. Without early intervention, “I don’t know where I’d be,” said KiAmber, who at 15 is still a juvenile and asked that her last name not be used.
Male juvenile offenders still greatly outnumber females. But while the arrest rate for juveniles has declined over the past two decades, it has not fallen as sharply for girls as it has for boys. And minority girls are twice as likely as white girls to be incarcerated.
Advocates say there aren’t enough juvenile justice programs targeted to girls, whose needs are often more complex than boys’. Many girls in the system have been physically or sexually abused or have mental health issues. Forty percent are gay, bisexual or transgender, compared to 14 percent of boys. Many are poor. Many have been funneled through the child-welfare system.
Read more here.