than cases involving males to be disposed of by detention or long-term confinement in secure facilities, after controlling for severity of offense and previous offenses (Bishop and Frazier, 1992). When contempt status (i.e., when the delinquency charge is for violation of a previously ordered condition of supervision) was introduced as a variable and interaction effects examined, however, Bishop and Frazier (1992) found that girls' risk of incarceration was substantially elevated in cases of contempt, whereas contempt had only a small impact on boys' risk of incarceration. In many cases, for girls, the original charge for which they were held in contempt was a status offense. In essence, for girls, the contempt charge means they are essentially treated as a criminal delinquent for a status offense, receiving harsher punishment for the contempt charge than for other criminal delinquency charges. Bishop and Frazier (1992:1183) reported that “the typical male offender who is not in contempt has a 3.9 percent probability of incarceration. The risk is increased only slightly, to 4.4 percent, when he is found in contempt. In sharp contrast, the typical female offender not in contempt has a 1.8 percent probability of incarceration, which increases markedly to 63.2 percent if she is held in contempt.”

In a study conducted on a geographically diverse, longitudinal (nine years of data) sample of approximately 36,000 court referrals, Johnson and Scheuble (1991) found that, after controlling for the nature of the offense, past offending, and other background variables, girls were more likely than boys to have their cases dismissed and boys were more likely than girls to be put on probation or to be locked up.

Very few programs address the unique needs and problems of female juvenile offenders. In a meta-analysis of juvenile prevention and intervention programs, the author reported that only 8 percent of the programs primarily served girls (Lipsey, 1992). When females get involved in the juvenile justice system, there are fewer options for them than for boys. Although delinquent girls share some problems with delinquent boys, they also have unique problems, including higher rates of childhood sexual victimization and depression (see Chapter 3) and greater, more central parenting roles. Yet programs are rarely tailored specifically for the needs of girls and their experiences.


In response to the rise in violent crime by juveniles during the late 1980s and early 1990s, states around the country made changes to their juvenile justice laws. These changes mainly involved making it easier to transfer juveniles to adult court, changing sentencing structures, and modifying or removing traditional confidentiality provisions. Between

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