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Marginalized Girls: Creating Pathways to Opportunity

Posted in 2013, Take Action Now Tuesday, 16 April 2013

 

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Last Thursday, I joined a panel of youth justice advocates at Georgetown University’s Journal on Poverty & Law for a symposium, “Marginalized Girls: Creating Pathways to Opportunity,  to discuss the effectiveness of gender-responsive reforms in juvenile justice.  Moderated by Dana Shoenberg of the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, the panel featured Dr. Lawanda Raviora and Vanessa Patino Lydia of the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center and Liz Watson of the National Women’s Law Center who shared the main findings and recommendations in the articles they authored for the journal.   Malika Saada Saar of Human Rights Project for Girls and I shared our reactions to the articles and offered recommendations for next steps.
 
Here are my recommendations for ways you can take action:
 
(1)    Advocate for more federal resources to address the needs of girls in the justice system.
 
The Obama Administration just proposed a budget including $2 million for grants in this area that could provide powerful incentives to implement some of the best practices featured in the articles.
 
To contact your House member, visit here.
 
To contact your Senators, visit here.
 
(2)    Engage others in your community and ask the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Girls Institute (NGI) to provide technical assistance to your jurisdiction.
 
For information on the NGI, visit their website here
 
(3)    Contact your members of Congress to urge that they update the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) to eliminate the loopholes in the law that allow status offenders to be detained in juvenile detention facilities as girls are disproportionately detained for status offenses.
 
To contact your Senators, visit here.
 
(4)    Urge your governor to implement the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to ensure that girls are not placed in adult jails and prisons.
 
To contact your Governor, visit here.
 
(5)    Mark your calendars: October 23, 2013!
 
October is National Youth Justice Awareness Month and October 23, 2013 will be Girls Justice Day. Use this opportunity to build awareness in your community about girls in the justice system and to create support for change.
 
Organized by Rohini Singh, Editor of the Journal, the symposium was a great success and hopefully there will not only be more attention but more action to address the needs of girls who are at risk of or in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.