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Locked In: Interactions With the Criminal Justice and Child Welfare Systems for LGBTQ Youth, YMSM, and YWSW Who Engage in Survival Sex

NCJ Number
Meredith Dank; Lilly Yu; Jennifer Yahner; Elizabeth Pelletier; Mitchyll Mora; Brendan Conner
Date Published
September 2015
137 pages
This second in a series of reports on a study of 283 youth engaged in survival sex in New York City who self identified as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning), YMSM (young men who have sex with men) and YWSW ( young women who have sex with women) focuses on these youths' interactions with juvenile and criminal justice systems, as well as the child welfare system.
The study found that two-thirds of the youth reported being stopped, questioned, and frisked by police at some point in their lives; 19 percent indicated they had weekly and sometimes daily contacts with the police. Youth perceived that many police encounters were initiated as a result of profiling on the basis of actual or perceived race, sexuality, and gender non-conformity. Fifteen percent of youth reported that condoms found during a stop were used as a justification for sustained questioning and even arrest for prostitution-related offenses. Youth reported high levels of instability, anxiety, and physical and emotional abuse in interactions with the criminal and juvenile justice systems; and stakeholders in these systems identified barriers to addressing these youths' needs due to facility and personnel challenges, the lack of needed community services and referrals, and budget constraints. Remedial suggestions included greater financial resources, personnel training in interacting with and understanding the needs of these youth, and an expansion of community services that target these youth. The youth also offer suggestions for the kinds of services they need to change their lives for the better. 81 references