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Improving the Juvenile Justice System for Girls: Lessons from the States

In September 2011, the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy, convened a meeting to examine and discuss the need to improve services for juvenile girls involved with the juvenile justice system. Participants at the meeting included State reformers, national policy experts, researchers and girls involved in the juvenile justice system. The article briefly discusses the literature that has documented girls’ various pathways into the system that include trauma, family conflict, and residential instability. Recent girl-focused reform efforts have been increasing over the past two decades and include the use of gender-responsive programming, programs located close to girls’ homes, and programs that address current processes used by the juvenile justice system and that address gaps in services need by female juvenile offenders. Specific examples of reforms at the State level are presented for Connecticut, Florida, and Stanislaus County,