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Girls in the Juvenile Justice System

Aug 31 2015, by Sean Hessler in Drug Charges, Legal Blog

When people think of a juvenile delinquent, they may not always think of a girl committing the crime. However, female delinquency brings a number of concerns and considerations.

Juvenile detention centers may offer a roof and some structure to girls in trouble, but there are some who believe we must reform our approach to juvenile justice if we hope to help individuals or society as a whole. Many aspects of the criminal justice system were designed to take into account the experiences of adult men while ignoring the experiences of other groups of people.

Every year, thousands of young women are taken into custody and held in detention for what are known as “status offenses.” Status offenses are acts that are only considered punishable to specific groups or classes of people. In Indiana, young girls are occasionally confined to juvenile detention centers for acts like running away or breaking curfew. Running away from home or breaking curfew are only punishable because of a young person’s minor status. In other words, neither of these behaviors would be criminal offenses if they were done by an adult.

Why Some Women Enter the Juvenile Justice System

Juvenile detention centers sometimes end up as “home” for girls with no other place to go. A large percentage of females in the juvenile justice system were victims of physical or sexual abuse, or neglect at the hands of their parents or guardians. To escape these dire circumstances, many young girls turn to the streets, and end up homeless, using drugs, and often prostituting themselves in order to survive.

This vicious cycle often leads to a lifetime of contact with law enforcement and in and out of different detention centers, first juvenile, and eventually adult. In this way and others, the juvenile system seems to be set up against the interests of the young women it should be serving. This is not unique to female juveniles.

If you are a young person facing criminal charges, contact an Indianapolis juvenile lawyer to discuss your case. Sean Hessler is available for a free initial consult at (317) 886-8800. You don’t have to be your only advocate. Contact Hessler Law today.

The outcome of an individual case depends on a variety of factors unique to that case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any similar or future case.