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New Report Finds Juvenile Justice System Fails to Meet Girls’ Needs

A new report released by the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice (BCCJ) finds that California’s juvenile justice system has failed to adapt to the sharp increase of girl offenders.

From 1995–2005, the number of girls in U.S. detention centers rose by 49 percent—compared to just 7 percent for boys. BCCJ's report, titled Gender Responsiveness and Equity in California’s Juvenile Justice System, notes that despite this alarming spike the state system remains ill-equipped to service girls’ needs. More information about the report is available here.

Although research shows that girls enter the juvenile system for different types of behavior than boys, services historically developed for male populations have not been adjusted to effectively help delinquent women. In addition to addressing their unique needs, the report proposes ways that policymakers and practitioners can help improve these programs and services.

Some of the policy recommendations include training juvenile justice staff in gender responsiveness, using assessment tools designed for females, and increasing relationship-based programs for girls that encourage communication and ensure emotional and physical safety.