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Neglected Needs: Girls in the Criminal Justice System

NCJ Number
Frances Sheahan
Date Published
April 2012
24 pages
This paper presents information on the problems and issues facing young girls involved in criminal justice systems around the world.
Research indicates that the problems facing young girls involved in criminal justice systems are common across many countries and contexts and that they present different challenges to corrections personnel on how to deal the issues. The common problems, besides gender and age, include the fact that they may be primary care givers for small children; they have specific health, hygiene, and sanitary needs; they are at high risk of substance abuse, self-harm, mental health issues, and HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases; they may have experienced past physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; and they are at increased risk for violence while in detention. This paper discusses the various forms of discrimination faced by young girls involved in criminal justice systems, such as gender-specific offenses, access to justice, and alternatives to detention. The paper also presents a set of recommendations for eliminating discrimination within the criminal justice system, as well as suggestions for how correctional administrations should respond to the special needs of girls in detention. The special needs are divided into four groups - protection from violence, access to gender-sensitive healthcare, rehabilitation and reintegration, and access to effective remedy and monitoring. A list of resources is included