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National Expert From Boston College Law School Works with BernCo's Girl’s Committee

12:57 PM

Francine Sherman, clinical professor and director of the Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project at the Boston College Law School, visited the Bernalillo County National Model Site for Juvenile Justice reform on May 23 and 24, 2017. During her visit she provided technical assistance to the Girl’s Workgroup.

After 17 years of reform, the juvenile justice system in Bernalillo County has seen a 76 percent drop in referrals (crime indicator) and a 57 percent drop in detention. However, the decreases have been driven by boys. Girls have remained largely unaffected by reform efforts despite implementation of targeted, gender specific programming. Girls of color see even less of the effects of reform and their challenges while on probation, drive them toward the deepest end of the system.

The Girls Workgroup work plan consists of three objectives:

  1. Eliminate detention in cases that come in as domestic violence/ domestic battery, at the front-end of the system and refocus on family engagement and crisis intervention.
  2. Eliminate referrals to CCA (Children’s Court Attorney) for three or fewer misdemeanors and target gender and culturally competent informal diversion.
  3. Reduce detention and out-of-home consequences for technical violations and program/rule non-compliance and refocus and refine probation objectives and services to be gender and culturally responsive.

Sherman met with system and community stakeholders that serve girls to gain valuable knowledge of the changes to the juvenile justice system in the past year and to gauge the impact that change has had on girls.

Various visioning exercises and a data walk with system stakeholders, community agencies and girls in community advocacy groups, were conducted to create strategies which provide a strong framework for consistent juvenile justice system quality improvement measures for girls.

Takeaways from the stakeholder collective visioning meeting include creating a new paradigm to serve girls using Positive Youth Development tools that treat young people as a resource. Under that paradigm system, stakeholders take on a new role and become brokers of community-based services for girls. This Positive Youth Development model of service delivery and accountability would include renegotiation of terms, incentives and graduated sanctions and restorative justice.

This word cloud incorporates the collaborative’s vision for girls in the juvenile justice system.

More on Francine Sherman:

Francine Sherman is a Clinical Associate Professor at Boston College Law School, where she has been teaching Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights & Public Policy for the past twenty years and where she founded and directs the Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project.

She speaks and writes widely about the juvenile justice system and, in particular, about girls in the justice system. She has testified before Congress, served on the U.S. Department of Justice National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women focusing on children and teens victimized by domestic violence and sexual assault, and on the Advisory Board of OJJDP’s National Girls Institute. She is the author of Detention Reform and Girls, a volume of the Pathways to Detention Reform series published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (2005) and Making Detention Reform Work for Girls: Practice Guide #5 (Annie E. Casey Foundation). She is also the author of the book, Juvenile Justice: Advancing Research, Policy and Practice (Wiley & Sons), and “Justice for Girls: Are we Making Progress?” (UCLA Law Review).

She is an ongoing consultant to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative on strategies to reduce the detention of girls nationally, and regularly consults with national and local foundations and systems on issues related to girls in the justice system. Her current research explores a developmental approach to juvenile justice reform from the perspectives of girls and young women including qualitative research focusing on pregnant and parenting young women in the juvenile justice system.

Gender Injustice Report - Executive Summary

Gender Injustice Report - Full Report


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