Justice for Girls: Are We Making Progress?

46 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2012 Last revised: 1 May 2015

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 20, 2012


Over the course of more than a century, structural gender bias has been a remarkably durable feature of United States juvenile justice systems. Consequently, as these systems have developed over the years, reducing gender bias and addressing girls in helpful, rather than harmful, ways has required specific and concerted efforts on the part of federal and state governments. Currently, there are a number of positive trends in juvenile justice, including policy and practice that is increasingly developmentally centered and data-driven. The question for those focused on girls in the juvenile justice system is how to ensure that girls are the beneficiaries of these positive trends.

This article discusses the history of federal leadership on girls’ issues and then considers the impact on girls of current trends toward developmentally centered and data-driven juvenile justice. It considers the application of developmentally centered policy in relation to girls who experience family violence and those who are commercially sexually exploited. The movement toward data-driven decision-making is examined for its potential to reduce embedded gender bias and particularly bias at the intersection of race and gender. It examines the impact on girls of the increasing use of assessment instruments and the consequences of greater reliance on evidence-based practice as further illustrations of the new data-driven approaches. Throughout, the Article discusses the implications of these trends for girls and suggests ways that systems can ensure that girls’ issues are considered and addressed.

Keywords: girls in the juvenile justice system, gender-specific services, Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, JJDP, data-driven approach

Suggested Citation

Sherman, Francine T., Justice for Girls: Are We Making Progress? (July 20, 2012). UCLA Law Review, Vol. 59, 2012, Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper 275, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2126753

Francine T. Sherman (Contact Author)

Boston College - Law School ( email )

885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States
617-552-4382 (Phone)

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