In a new report examining the juvenile justice system’s treatment of girls, Francine Sherman finds that while juvenile courts have made progress in employing evidence based practices as a whole, girls are still being more harshly punished than boys. The report, “Justice for Girls: Are We Making Progress?” is available in full on UCLA’s website (direct PDF download). I’ve pulled the main findings from the report and included them below:
In 2012, twenty years after the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act instructed states to assess their systems for gender responsiveness, girls continue to be detained and committed for offenses that would not result in similarly harsh treatment for boys.
However, we are at the beginning of a more developmentally centered and data-driven age in juvenile justice in which systems have the tools to be more reflective and intentional in policy and practice.
The increased use of data in juvenile justice systems is particularly promising given the hidden nature of so much of the gender-based inequity in justice system practices.
Although we appear to be repeating past mistakes by sweeping girls into the system when they are victims of domestic violence, the system itself is more aware of girls’ needs, the outcry is quicker and more informed, and practices are measured against a progressive movement away from secure confinement for youth.
Overall, Sherman’s report seems cautiously optimistic that the future will employ more evidence based practices for girls in the juvenile justice system.
David Backes writes the Friday news roundup for Reclaiming Futures and contributes articles about juvenile justice reform and adolescent substance abuse treatment to ReclaimingFutures.org. He has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Santa Clara University. David works as an account executive for Prichard Communications.
*Image at top via Flickr user inmate_82
Updated: February 08 2018