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Neglected Needs: Girls in the Criminal Justice System

You need to read this document if you work with justice-involved girls. It explains the serious problems faced with girls in the criminal justice system and suggests ways to address these challenges and meet these girls' critical needs. This Briefing Paper is divided in to four sections: introduction-particular issues facing girls involved in criminal justice systems, numbers, and the right to non-discrimination; discrimination in the juvenile justice system-gender-specific offences, access to justice, alternatives to detention, and recommendations for eliminating this discrimination; recommendations for responding to the special needs of girls in detention-protection from violence, access to gender-sensitive healthcare, rehabilitation and reintegration, and access to effective remedy and monitoring; and conclusions. "Treating girls who are offenders and prisoners differently from their male counterparts is not unfair or discriminatory. In fact the reverse is true. Girls who offend and who are in detention have distinctive needs that must be identified and addressed so that they receive treatment that is neither better nor worse than that received by boys, but that is equitable. An important first step for policy-makers is to research and identify the background, characteristics and social reintegration needs of girl offenders and to use this to inform legislation and policies in a gender sensitive way. It is hoped that this paper demonstrates the need for gender specific policies that respond to the needs of girls and that the recommendations it contains can be a source of inspiration for law and policy makers to develop a proportionate and gender-sensitive response to offending by girls" (p. 19).