Gender, ethnicity and race in incarcerated and detained youth: Services and policy implications for girls

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Objective: While work has been conducted on gender differences to inform gender-specific programming, relatively little work has been done regarding racial and ethnic differences among incarcerated and detained girls in particular. This is an important gap, considering gender, race, and ethnicity may be important factors in responding to the needs of incarcerated and detained girls within the Risk-Needs-Responsivity (RNR) model. We hypothesize girls will show relatively more pathology than boys, and that White girls will show relatively more pathology as compared to girls of other groups. Implications of findings for services delivery and policy are presented. Method: Data were collected on N = 657 youth using structured interview and record review. Analyses included χ2 and t tests. Results: As compared to boys, girls were older at first arrest yet younger during most lock-up, received poorer grades, experienced more family difficulty, and more were lesbian/bisexual. As compared to minority girls, White girls began hard drugs at a younger age, had more conduct disorder symptoms, and more frequently experienced parental difficulty and abuse. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: Age-appropriate programming that addresses family difficulty and sexuality is needed for girls. As compared to White girls, reentry planning may more readily rely on family support for minority girls. Systems should consider use of actuarial methods in order to reduce bias in making placement decisions.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal