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Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform: Girls in the System

Girls in the System: 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 


  • California — Law Curbs Use of Restraints on Women in Labor in Prison
    The California legislature amended the penal code to prohibit restraint by the use of leg irons, waist chains, or handcuffs behind the body of a woman who is incarcerated and is pregnant, is in labor, in recovery, or has recently given birth. Such restraint may only be used when deemed necessary for the safety and security of the woman, staff, or the public. The law also requires that women who are incarcerated be advised of these standards orally or in writing. A.B. 2530/Act No. 726, signed into law September 28, 2012. 

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  • Maryland — Department of Juvenile Services Develops Plan for Equitable Services for Girls: Legislation passed in Maryland required the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) to create a detailed plan to provide equitable resources for girls’ services starting in FY 2013. The DJS report, which was published in February 2012, includes statewide and regional information on prevention and diversion services, alternatives to detention, and educational and vocational training services. The legislation stemmed from serious disparities and limitations in availability of services for girls in Maryland. The legislative effort also increased DJS’ overall focus on girls, leading the Pre-Adjudication Coordination and Training Center (PACT)—a Baltimore City intensive alternative to detention—to expand in October 2011 to include girls. S.B. 787/Ch. 200, signed into law May 10, 2011; effective July 1, 2011.
  • Rhode Island — Department of Children, Youth and Families Improves Services and Conditions for Girls: In August 2011, the Department of Children, Youth and Families moved the girls placed at the Rhode Island Training School from an outdated building to a private pod in the recently constructed Youth Development Center. The move was precipitated by the efforts of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) Girls Work Group, and has resulted in improved access to educational and recreational facilities, decreased use of mechanical restraints, and many other environmental improvements.

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  • Alabama — Legislature Creates Commission on Girls and Women in the Criminal Justice System: The Alabama legislature created the Commission on Girls and Women in the Criminal Justice System to study the conditions, needs, issues, and problems of the criminal justice system in Alabama as it affects women and girls in the state. Based on research, investigation, and review, the commission is charged with developing comprehensive, evidence-based recommendations for how to fix the system’s shortcomings. H.B. 519/Act 2010-517, signed into law April 21, 2010; effective July 1, 2010.
  • Washington — State Limits Use of Restraints on Pregnant Women and Girls: Washington law now bans all use of restraints on women and girls who are in labor or are recovering postdelivery. No correctional personnel are allowed in the room during labor or childbirth unless specifically requested by medical staff. The law additionally states that except in extraordinary circumstances, no restraints of any kind may be used on incarcerated pregnant women or girls in transit to or from medical appointments and court during the third trimester of pregnancy, or during postpartum recovery. If restraints are ever used on a pregnant woman or girl, they must be the least restrictive available and the most reasonable under the circumstances; the use of leg irons or waist chains is never permitted on a pregnant woman or girl. The law requires information about the requirements to be posted in correctional facilities, provided to staff involved in the transportation of pregnant women, and provided to pregnant women and girls themselves. H.B. 2747/Ch. 181, signed into law March 23, 2010; effective June 10, 2010.

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  • New Mexico —  Legislature Prohibits Use of Restraints on Girls in Labor: A new law prohibits the use of any kind of restraints on an inmate who is in labor, delivering her baby, or recuperating from the delivery, unless there are grounds to believe that she presents an immediate threat of harm to herself, staff, or others, or is a substantial flight risk. The law also mandates that an adult or juvenile correctional facility, detention center, or local jail use the least restrictive restraints necessary when the facility has knowledge that an inmate is in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. S.B. 423/Ch. 73, signed into law April 2; effective July 1, 2009.
  • New Mexico — Task Force Develops Plan for Gender-Responsive Services and Programs for Girls in the Juvenile Justice System: In response to a House Memorial passed in 2009, the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department convened a task force to develop a sustainable plan for a continuum of gender-responsive services and programs for girls in the juvenile justice system. The initial legislative request for the task force cites the complex and unique needs of girls. The task force reviewed current risk assessment tools, existing treatment options for gender-responsive services and programs, and best practice models for implementing and sustaining genderresponsive services and programs. The task force’s plan recommends implementation of a gender-specific curriculum and programming for all girls in the juvenile justice system. The 2011 legislative request to implement the plan notes the need for early intervention, involvement with families and communities, staff training, and standardized data collection, and also acknowledges the fiscal prudence of early intervention. H.M. 13, 2009/H.M. 40, 2010/H.M. 21, 2011.

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Photo: rien nothing, under Creative Commons License