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In the News: States Grapple with Girls in the Juvenile Justice System
NIC News & Updates


Image of online articleA recent article from The PEW Charitable Trusts, States Grapple with Girls in the Juvenile Justice System, discusses how juvenile girls often have more complex needs than boys and the challenge that brings to states and localities.

Highlights from the article include:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Delinquent girls end up trapped in a cycle of dependency, and are more likely to have children who are then funneled through the child-welfare system, says Nona Jones, with the PACE Center for Girls in Florida. “The economics of it grows exponentially. By investing in a girl early on, you’re going to save millions of dollars for taxpayers.”
  • Some states are taking aggressive measures to address the juvenile justice gender gap. Among the most notable are Florida and Connecticut, which over the last decade have mandated gender-specific programming. Florida also closed a girls’ maximum security facility.
  • A few states have also begun to experiment with ways to keep from penalizing schoolgirls for what some experts say is often either normal, rambunctious teenage behavior or that of traumatized girls acting out. For example, Illinois and Maryland have passed laws that require schools to respond to disruptive behavior by teaching social skills, rather than relying on expulsions and arrests.

Access the full article


This announcement is available at NIC’s Gender-Responsive News for Women and Girls.  Feel free to forward to friends and colleagues.  Subscribe to the newsletter at

For additional resources on Justice-Involved Women go to NIC’s Women Offenders.

Posted Tue, Dec 8 2015 9:20 AM by Susan Powell


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