Rights4Girls, in partnership with the Georgetown Juvenile Justice Initiative, worked on a study that looked at DC’s juvenile justice system paying special attention to the girls in its population. They aimed to understand the complexities of the girls in the juvenile justice system by looking at the intersectionality involved in the issue.
Back on the Justice Clearinghouse to discuss the findings from the Beyond the Walls: A Look at Girls in D.C.’s Juvenile Justice System report are Cherice Hopkins and Rebecca Burney from Rights4Girls. Cherice is a Staff Attorney who works in research, education, policy analysis, and reform. Meanwhile, Rebecca is an Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow who works directly with youth involved in the juvenile justice and foster care system and survivors of sexual abuse.
Topics they unpacked on this session are:
- The increase of girls in the juvenile justice system at every point of contact, how the system is not designed with girls in mind, and the efforts that rarely address girls’ needs.
- Intersectionality: Understanding the issues that plague the juvenile justice systems by considering the overlapping identities of the people involved in the system and how it impacts them.
- The drivers of justice involvement for girls.
- The abuse to prison pipeline: How abuse drives girls to the juvenile justice system as they end up entangled in ‘criminal’ activity in their effort to cope with the trauma by themselves due to the lack of available services and support system.
- Disproportional criminalization of status offenses such as truancy and running away that youth and girls only engage in their effort to escape abuse, trauma, bullying, or harassment.
- Crossover from child welfare to the juvenile system brought about by girls’ behavior that resulted from the experiences that ushered them into the child welfare system in the first place.
- Domestic violence and mandatory arrests that do not probe into the cause of the altercation that lead to the unintended consequence of the victim being arrested, instead of the abuser.
- School pushout where girls who get in trouble for conduct are given devastating consequences as being held back, dropping out, or justice system involvement.
- Homelessness, poverty, and even housing instability that lead girls to justice system involvement as they get involved in sex trafficking or arrested for offenses like loitering.
- The findings of the report with statistics that highlight:
- The overall trend of increase in girls’ population across all points in the juvenile justice system.
- The younger ages that girls become involved in the system compared with boys.
- The non-violent nature of offenses girls tend to commit that bring them into the system.
- The significantly disproportional representation of girls of color in the juvenile justice system population.
- The role that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) play in the narrative and trajectory of the girls’ lives and their involvement in the justice system.
- The recommendations based on the findings of the report on how to better improve the chances and conditions of girls in the juvenile justice system through:
- Comprehensive data collection and analysis for better discernment of the issues impacting girls.
- Giving the girls a seat in the table and giving them the chance to share their experiences and voice out their thoughts.
- Better understanding of the programming made available, identify the gaps, and connecting the girls to these resources.
- An all-hands-on-deck approach to establish effective policies and practices that will address the issue of disproportionality in girls’ justice involvement
Points touched on during the Q&A include:
- What types of violations fall under status offenses.
- Minors being criminally charged despite Safe Harbor Laws.
- The segments included under the umbrella term girls of color.
- How Stay At Home Orders impact the numbers of girls being arrested and detained.
- Alternatives and diversions available instead of detention.
- Possible longitudinal studies to examine the outcomes of those processed under the Juvenile Justice System.
Handouts and Resources
Other Webinars in this Series:
- Intersectionality and Reducing Girls Justice System Environment (this webinar)
- June 23: Combating Domestic Child Sex Trafficking: A Multi-Disciplinary Response
- Aug 12: Asking the Right Questions: Collaborative Approaches and Strategies to Identify and Serve Child Sex Trafficking Survivors
- Oct 6: Family Violence and Abuse to Prison Pipeline for Girls
- “I learned a lot from the webinar. I work with adults in Drug Court and am looking to create a Gender-Specific Drug Court. This gave me an idea of some of the issues involved with criminal justice-involved girls (obviously there are many parallels with justice-involved women). Thanks so much.” — Ashley
- “Great data! Thank you for your research and sharing it!” — Brooke
- “Since there is little research done regarding girls, I felt that this was perfect.” — Damita
- “Great information! Has prompted me to check with my agency and see what type of information and resources we have for young girls. Thanks again!” — Kathy
- “Fantastic presenters. They made the information very relevant and enjoyable to learn.” — Marcus
- “Every webinar has taken me and introduced me to populations that I was not familiar with or that I had not even considered before. This webinar did that for me, and the fact that it was very well presented and organized, provided me with valuable information, easy to remember. Thank you!” — Virginia