Juvenile Justice in the News

Girls Health Screen (Leslie Acoca)


Girls and the Juvenile Justice System (OJJDP)

Gender Injustice: Why JJDPA Matters for System-Involved Girls (National Crittenton Foundation)

An Open Letter to President Obama: Visit Our Girls Behind Bars Too (Huffington Post)

Gender Injustice:  System-Level Juvenile Justice Reforms for Girls (The National Crittenton Foundation and The National Women's Law Center)

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in the Juvenile Justice System:  A Guide to Juvenile Detention Reform #11 (Annie E. Casey Foundation)

Black Girls Lives Matter: Pushed Out, Over Policed, and Underprotected (Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, African American Policy Forum)


“ …Girls are at the intersection of numerous social systems such as public health, human services, criminal and juvenile justice, housing, education, employment and treatment services.

The degree to which girls’ gender and cultural needs are recognized, acknowledged and met in these systems can either interrupt or perpetuate the inter-generational cycle of crime, poverty, chemical, dependency and abuse.”

Minnesota Action Plan for Female Offenders Report 2002, Minnesota Department of Corrections Planning for Female Offenders Unit

The Problem:  

From The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls' Story  (Human Rights Project for Girls, Georgetown Law Center, Ms. Foundation for Women) 

The untold, hidden narrative of girls and our broken child welfare and criminal justice systems.

This groundbreaking report maps out key pathways and points in the sexual abuse to prison pipeline—the detention of girls who are victims of physical, sexual abuse and sex trafficking; the criminalization of girls who run away from home or become truant; and the all too many girls who cross from the child welfare system into juvenile justice.  The report creates a clear and undeniable understanding of how girls are swept up into systems that are suppose to help them, how girls are unfairly punished after their experiences of sexual and physical abuse and how these systems fail them time and again. 

Girls in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, particularly girls from culturally diverse communities, are not getting their trauma experiences addressed nor their gender and cultural needs met, because of this they are going deeper into the systems with very few options for transitioning out in a good way and thus perpetuating the inter-generational cycle.

The Solution:

Keep girls from entering the juvenile and criminal justice systems in the first place.  In order to do this child welfare and juvenile justice reform will require shining a light on what's wrong, what's working well and how to make sustainable systemic change that provides meaningful prevention and early intervention strategies at the first point of contact with systems.

In order to treat all girls fairly and justly, systems/agencies must intentionally address and mitigate race, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation biases in all parts of the continuum of services for girls.  We need to provide an intentional focus on girls' strengths, protective and risk factors, what girls need, and best practices in helping them meet these needs.  In order for agencies to interrupt the inter-generational cycle they must develop and deliver meaningful and cost effective female and culturally responsive trauma-informed programs and services for girls.

This will require agencies, residential facilities, and state/county wide systems and agencies to seek consultation from experts. Paula Schaefer & Associates, Inc. provides expert consultation and training services throughout the United States and Canadda.