Abstract There is a general perception in the general worldwide community that the criminal behavior of women and the delinquent behavior of girls are not serious issues. It is generally asserted that women are more likely to commit minor offences and also supported by historical statistics. It has been quite noticeable in recent trends, however, that there is a dramatic rise in the pace at which women are being convicted, and showing a faster rate than men. People who have worked closely with the youth have also known for a long time that girls are different than boys in their adolescent development; in their habits, attitudes and traditions.
Studies have also shown differential treatment in families, schools, recreational facilities, and in the juvenile justice system. Other contributing factors to the differential treatment are sexism, classism and racism. Racism and classism, as well as sexism, may also play into the difference in treatment. The culture around these girls also tends to send conflicting and often confusing messages to further complicate their healthy development. It is hoped that the recent increased focus on adolescent girls unfortunate plight in the juvenile justice system has raised the consciousness of the community and the recognized organizations in the legal profession to willing focus on what can be done individually and collectively to improve the plight of adolescent girls. 1.
0 Introduction "Girls have received second class treatment and historically have been neglected by the system." . To reflect on this assertion and to consider ways of eliminating the issue of juvenile delinquency, it is important to look at the history of the current worldwide judicial set-ups and to propose questions that would lead to the resolution of this crisis. It is worthwhile reflecting that the juvenile justice system is quite distinct from the criminal justice system. It was started in 1899 by a group of women who were concerned with the care and treatment of children in the justice system, and in particular with greater emphasis on rehabilitation, accountability, and the special circumstances of the youth. The issue now, after more than ten decades of its creation, is that for the issues of fairness, accountability and community safety to be resolved, gender-specific issues surrounding girls must be given far greater consideration that it is currently. It has been witnessed over the last two decades that there has been a significant increase in the number of girls involved in and affected by the justice system.
However, it appears that the current justice system seems poorly prepared to deal with these cases. Current existing information shows that girls, who become involved in the justice system, are in many ways, different from boys. It is without doubt that girls are more often the victims of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse and are quite often placed in settings and institutions that are ill-equipped and ineffective in, their treatment and rehabilitation. Furthermore, girls often fail to receive the adequate educational and community support and are only too frequently subjected to institutional bias in the processing and handling of their cases. To achieve a direction in the resolution of this crisis, the plight of the adolescent girls, the hard and often difficult questions ought to be asked: .
Why is there an increase in adolescent crime? . What messages can be delivered to the leaders of our communities and nations? . What can be done on this issue, as leaders of nations and organizations of lawyers? . How can the resources of the nation and legal profession be marshalled to tackle such a monumental problem? . How can we enlist the help of teachers, parents, social workers, juvenile justice experts, and law enforcement? . How can these young girls be reached? 2.
0 Juvenile crime Juvenile crime is used to denote various offences committed by minors (youths under the age of 18). These offences generally includes: . Acts of juvenile delinquency, which are considered as crimes if committed by adults, and. Offences, which are less serious forms of misbehavior such parental disobedience and truancy. These types of offences are usually within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, however, serious offences committed by minors may be tried in criminal court and could lead to prison terms. There are a number of risk factors that may increase the likelihood of a female teenager becoming involved in the juvenile justice system.
For example: 1. A history of being a victim of violence, sexual abuse or physical abuse. 2. Difficulty in school, with academic subjects, behavioural expectations, pregnancy or conflicting responsibilities such as care of won young children. 3. Association with peers who engage in delinquent act, drug abuse, alcohol, tobacco or songs, and 4.
Substance abuse, tobacco, alcohol or drugs, predate involvement with the juvenile justice system. In essence, delinquency may be regarded as an outcome of a "child's soul interaction with one or more elements of that environment. Poverty, racial tensions, family conflict, peer pressure, mental or physical disabilities or inadequate educational opportunities may individually or collectively be factors" that negatively affect the development of a child. 3.
0 Factors affecting girls' treatment by the juvenile justice system The interaction of gender, race, and social economic status together with limited placement options has a bearing on the disposition of girls in the juvenile justice system. Quite undoubtedly, girls are often inappropriately placed in programs and facilities which have been designed for male or which focus more on security rather than treatment and intervention. In general many of such facilities are uni-sex facilities, where the particular needs and requirements for girls are either ignored or inadequate. Quite often this may be due to the fact that they are the minority group housed in the facility.
In most cases these facilities do not offer programs for pregnant and parental teen, sexual abuse treatment, substance abuse treatment or educational programs that consider the needs and requirements of girls. Vocational programs may equally be lacking and when they exist, they are often found to be in acute shortage of adequate modern facilities. Worst of all, they usually have the tendency to push girls towards stereotypically female occupations. 4. 0 Data on Girls in the system 4. 1 Intro Taking the State of California as an example (Table 1), in the year 2000, a quarter of the state's misdemeanour and 17% of its felony arrests were young women.
For 1999 almost 50, 000 girls came into contact with the juvenile justice system. It is still without doubt that there is an acute lack of research about girls in the areas of girl-specific justice programs and criminal behaviour. Table 1. California Arrests in year 2000 It is without doubt that gender stereotypes tend to dictate the way the criminal justice system treats girls. In the broad scheme of things, girls are expected to be passive and well behaved and society doesn't expect to need protection from them, whereas, boys are expected to be aggressive and violent and society needs some kind of protection from them. Accordingly, there are very few facilities or programs that are designed exclusively for girls.
Many girls are still housed in co-ed facilities where they are treated with programs that were developed according to research about boys, (or sometimes about women).  It is quite clear from many reports that girls have specific needs and require specific programs such as treatment for physical, emotional or sexual victimization, classes for pregnant or parenting teens, and vocational programs that includes non-traditional career options and aligned with their interests. Furthermore, girls require programs that place them in the least restrictive care setting possible and provide some freedom of movement. According to OJJDP, a large proportion of females enter the system for non-violent offences, and in 1996 girls were found to be involved in 41% of the status offences and 23% of the delinquency cases that ended up in a trial. It is may be stated that if all new specific programs are instituted in juvenile halls or state prisons, then as a result of lack of good alternatives, more and more girls would be unnecessarily booked for those programs .
According to an Australian study the vast majority of young people who have contact with the juvenile justice system are male, paralleling the situation among adults. Overwhelmingly, girls are less likely to commit criminal offences, particularly violent offences. Approximately 90% of young people in detention are boys, who are significantly more likely to be charged for offending than girls, except in the case of prostitution. However, more girls are appearing before the Children's Court now than ten years ago and Indigenous girls are significantly over-represented. It has been estimated that between 80-90% of girls in detention have experienced sexual abuse or incest and girls who are State wards are 40 times more likely to be detained in custody than other girls Statistics from the Australian Institute of Criminology for March 1998 (Table 2) indicate that at a national level, Indigenous girls are twenty-two times more likely to be in juvenile detention than non-Indigenous girls, while Indigenous boys are eighteen times more likely to be in detention than non-Indigenous boys.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that at Yas mar, the only female juvenile detention centre in NSW, at any given time over half the young women in detention are Indigenous. Table 2, Persons aged 10-17 in juvenile Corrective Institutions. 4. 1 Some cold facts about girl juveniles in crime. Juvenile delinquency is an issue that is normally treated with contempt. It is important, however, to consider the sociological and emotional issues associated with it.
Perhaps many have been affected by the wrong doings of some delinquent's actions such as some kind of fatal stabbing or drive by shooting. But realistically speaking, aren't the needs of the young adolescent girl being ignored. The question that is being asked of the justice system of today is, "What about girls"? . This question is hard to ignore given that girls involvement in the juvenile justice system continues on a steady climb upwards, as juvenile male involvement in delinquency declines. This paper stipulates that between the numbers of juvenile females arrested for Violent Crime Index offences between 1992 and 1996 increased by 25 percent, whilst that of male juveniles for same offences remained the same. This work also identified that juvenile female arrests for Property Crime Index offences increased by 21 percent, while juvenile male arrests in this category decreased by 4 percent.
According to this paper , the Law enforcement agencies in the United States made 723, 000 arrests of juvenile females in 1996. This work also suggests that female involvement in the juvenile justice system, once seen as an anomaly, has evolved into a rather persistent and significant trend. Female Offenders in the Juvenile Justice System, indicates that, in the United States, females are entering the juvenile justice system at younger ages and, although male offenders account for most delinquent acts, juvenile arrests involving females were more than double the increase for males between 1989 and 1993. Also a report released by OJJDP of the US and Girls, Inc, states that in 1994 girls represented 25% of all juvenile arrests. The majority of girls were charged with non-violent crimes, especially status offences (such as, acts that would not be considered crimes if committed by adults: such as curfew violations, runaways, and truancy, ). According to the report, girls also account for between 25 - 35% of juveniles arrested for such delinquent offences as simple assault, liquor law violations, larceny and theft, and 49% charged with prostitution and commercialized vice.
According to statistics released by the FBI, while in 1994 young women accounted for 18. 6% of juveniles arrested for aggravated assault, they accounted for fewer than 9% of juvenile arrests for serious offences such as robbery and weapon offences, and about 6% for murder and non-negligent homicide. According to this report , the US national statistics on differential treatment are startling and "although primarily referred for status offences, females are twice as likely as boys to be detained, and are detained on average, three to five times as long." Also this report states that the percentage of girls in custody for violating a valid court order is double that of boys. Boys get in trouble for acting out their anger in violent and often destructive ways, whereas girls often get into the system for self-destructive behaviours such as "hanging out with the wrong crowd," truancy, pregnancy, family problems or substance abuse. Estimates show that the young women in the US juvenile justice system who have been physically or sexually abused range from about 40-73%, compared to estimates in the US national population that 23-34% of young women have been abused. Broadly speaking, sexual abuse is often the reason why girls run away from home to engage in early sexual activity, and in most instances use drugs and alcohol.
The report has also found that there a growing number of violent female gang members who carry weapons to school, get into fights, and sometimes engage in criminal behaviour. The reasoning the girls join these gangs, it has been reported by those who work with the gangs, is that the girls join for protection, respect, and power, but quite frequently they are subjected to sexual abuse and humiliation by the male gang members. 4. 2 More data on Girls in the criminal justice system: For example, consider a comprehensive analysis of types of offences conducted in Queensland 1998-1999, Australia for which young females are being apprehended and which may result in a finding of guilt. This study reveals that while females are unquestionably being cautioned, charged, and incarcerated less than males in absolute terms, they are not being cautioned, charged, and incarcerated for the "traditional" crimes of conventional femininity: web > This report contains quite an elaborate analysis with tables and figures on: .
Juvenile offenders dealt with by the police... Juvenile offenders cautioned by the police... Female and male juveniles cautioned by police... Most serious offence charged...
Outcome of most serious offence... Charges heard... Selected offences, selected as a proportion of all proven offences... Selected proven assault offences by gender... Proportion of proven assault offences resulting in a supervised order by gender... Juveniles placed on juvenile justice orders.
Below are more web links on information about girls in the criminal justice system... California Juvenile Arrest Data, 1991-2000, Department of Justice [ web >. 1997 Female Custody Rates by Race, OJJDP [ web >. OJJDP fact sheet [ web (PDF). 5. 0 Recent statistics on Women and Girls Juvenile offences.
Listed below is the latest information and statistics on women and girls juvenile in the criminal justice system... The likelihood of a woman born in 2001 and spending time in prison in her lifetime is 6 times higher than for a woman born in 1974 (Prevalence of Imprisonment in the U. S. Population, 1974-2001, updated 18/08/2003)...
From October 1, 1999, to September 30, 2000, the shortest incarceration sentence length for female offenders was 11. 1 months for misdemeanour offences, whilst the longest incarceration sentence length for female offenders was 51. 4 months for violent offences. The average was recorded as 34. 7 months. (Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 2000, updated 08/2002, 121 pages)...
In 2001, there were 2, 100, 750 total female arrests, compared to 7, 224, 203 male arrests, of which female juveniles accounted for 21. 1 percent (Crime in the United States, 2002)... At 106 percent, the number of all female prisoners, since 1990, has grown faster than that of male prisoners (75 percent). Consequently, the number of children with a mother in prison nearly doubled to 98 percent since 1991 (Incarcerated Parents and Their Children, 2000)... Statistics based on the self-reports of victims of violence shows that women account for approximately 14 percent of violent offenders, at an annual average figure of approximately 2. 1 million (Women Offenders, 1999, revised 10/03/2000)...
Approximately half of the women in prison during 1991 were reported to have committed their offences under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the same amount had used drugs in the month before their current offences, with approximately two-fifths on daily drugs usage (Women in Prison, 1994)... Of the female offenders released from prison during 1994, some 57. 6 percent were rearrested, 39. 9 percent were re convicted, 17. 3 percent were returned to prison with a new prison sentence, and 39. 4 percent were returned to prison without a new prison sentence (Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994, updated 06/2002)...
"In 1992-93 females experienced 7 times as many incidents of nonfatal violence by an intimate as did males" (Female Victims of Violent Crime, 1996)... "Between 1992 and 1996 the number of juvenile females arrested for Violent Crime Index offences increased 25 percent, with no increase in arrests of male juveniles for the same offences. Juvenile female arrests for Property Crime Index offences increased 21 percent, while juvenile male arrests in this category decreased by 4 percent" (What About Girls? , 09/1998)... "Of the 13, 843 facilities responding to SAMHSA's 2002 National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-STATS), 7 percent served primarily clients younger than age 18. These "adolescent" facilities were more likely than adult facilities to offer special programs for clients with co-occurring substance abuse and psychological problems. In adolescent facilities, the majority of clients were treated for both alcohol and drug abuse problems.
About 8 percent of the clients in adolescent facilities were treated for only alcohol abuse compared with 22 percent in adult facilities." (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Statistics, 10/2003. ). Violent crimes (38. 5 percent) and drug offences (37. 7 percent) were the most common causes for the arrest of female gang members during 1996 (Female Gangs: A Focus on Research, 2001)... "Between 1988 and 1997, the number of delinquency cases involving females under age 16 increased 89 percent, while the number of cases involving females age 16 or older increased 74 percent" (Female Delinquency Cases, 1997, updated 10/2000)...
During fiscal year 2001, there were 8, 641 (14. 5 percent) Federally sentenced female defendants in the United States (Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics, 2001)... The number of female prisoners increased 4. 9 percent -- double that of men, 2. 4 percent -- during 2002 (Prisoners 2002, updated July 2003)... Since 1995 the annual rate of growth in the number of female inmates has averaged 5.
2 percent, higher than the 3. 5 percent average increase for males. Women accounted for 6. 8 percent of all inmates at yearend 2002, up from 6. 1 percent at yearend 1995 (Prisoners 2002, updated July 2003). 6.
0 Placement As stipulated earlier, there have been few options for placements for girls. Most institutions around the world have not been geared to programming for the special needs of girls (such as sexual abuse treatment, appropriate vocational education, or programs for pregnant or parenting teens), and there are continual efforts in search of solutions. One example is a conference organised in October 200 and sponsored by Connecticut's Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee. This conference had its theme as "Girls in the Juvenile Justice System - A Search for Solutions." It was observed that there was a tremendous turnout, which indicated the huge interest in the issue of girls juvenile, and the criminal justice system. Several of the workshops at the conference showcased successful state and community programs in the United States. For example, Minnesota has, for many years, been building programs that respond to the particular needs of girls.
Among them, for example, is the St. Croix Girls' Camp, a 3-month wilderness-based program with an education component and well-planned transition and aftercare services that involve working with the girls' families (when they are willing and available). The camp started with a "corrections mentality" ("keep them controlled"), but changed to a treatment mode when the girls' issues surfaced. Particularly troublesome are wards of the state that have no one to connect with. Staff found that for them independent living skills and mentors were particularly important. Minnesota has an Interagency Adolescent Female Task Force to address parity issues and gender-specific programming.
Connecticut has begun to pay attention to these needs, including special programming for girls who have been referred to the Juvenile Court. There is interest in the present United States Congress in dismantling the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, in focusing on punishment, violent juvenile offenders (mostly boys), secure detention for status offences (or reunification with family), rolling back attention to minority and gender issues, and relaxing the requirement for separation of youngsters and adults in custody. A statement by Connecticut's Judge John T. Downey, Chief Administrative Judge, Juvenile Matters, at the October 2000 conference states: "If punishment really worked, we would have the best kids in the world.
Concern for public safety and for accountability must be paired with treatment and education. Kids have needs that must be met if they are to return to society." 7. 0 Gender-Specific Programming - a example of an effective solution The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the US has been identifying programs that are working successfully with girls. The OJJDP defines Gender-Specific Services as those that: . Are designed to meet the unique needs of female offenders. Value the female perspective.
Celebrate and honour the female experience. Respect and take into account female development. Empower girls and young women to reach their full human potential; and. Work to change established attitudes that prevent or discourage girls from recognizing their potential . 8. 0 Conclusion It has been quite clear from reports that girls who are caught up in the justice system enter it as a result of circumstances distinctly different from those of men, and so find themselves at a distinct disadvantage.
Sociologist Beth Richie argues that a key to understanding and responding to women as offenders is understanding their status as crime victims. Moreover, race and socioeconomic status, which also intervene at the intersection of criminality and victimization, need to be more fully explored. It may be stressed that policy recommendations should continue to focus of prevention and early intervention. Also the expansion of research on young women and the curtailment of differential treatment of female juvenile offenders, such as charging them more frequently than boys with a delinquent offence for violation of a court order would be most desirable for the community at large .
The promotion of gender specific rather than of gender-stereotyped interventions is also desirable, since not all girls have traditionally female interests or talents. Encouraging more and more tailored treatment to fit individual needs by creating more alternatives to abusive home situations would also go further towards a solution. It has been found that many girls first come in contact with juvenile justice system, trying to escape an abusive situation at home. Finally our girls should be given adequate preparation for a positive future. The implementation of these measures is easily justified knowing that the prevention of juvenile delinquency would effectively reduce a nation's crime rate. The prevention of delinquency is, in the broadest sense, the responsibility of the agencies organisations, institutions and individuals that collectively make up a youth's environment, and should be firmly embraced, as a joint effort by all groups of society including the education, social and criminal justice systems .
It is expected that a great and sustained efforts are required to further understand the individual needs of girls in the justice system and to develop effective intervention strategies, . To reduce recidivism... To develop gender-specific community based services and alternatives for girls... And to define the roadways to female delinquent behaviour.
References . Chesney-Lind, M. , "Girls' Crime and Woman's Place: Toward a Feminist Model of Female Delinquency," Crime and Delinquency 35 (1) (January 1989): 5-29. . Richie, B. , and C.
Johnson, "Gender Violence, Incarceration and Women's Health: The Prevalence of Abuse History Among Newly Incarcerated Women in a New York City Jail," Journal of the American Medical Women's Association 53 (2) (1996): 89-93. . web > . Key Studies on Girls and the Juvenile Justice System, Building Blocks for Youth .
[ web > . [ web (PDF) . Female Offenders in the Juvenile Justice System, 1996 OJJDP [ web (PDF).