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Boys and girls treated differently in Maryland's justice system

The fight for gender equality isn't a new one. But it is something that most don't grapple with until they are adults. A recent Baltimore Sun report indicates, however, that gender equality is a needed focus with regards to juvenile justice in Maryland.

The Baltimore Sun reports that girls are placed in juvenile facilities significantly more frequently than boys and often for lesser offenses. A girl who commits a misdemeanor assault, for example, is more likely to be placed in custody of a facility than her male counterpart.

While residential treatment centers might sound like a break when compared to a standard prison, a teen being placed in one is still a big deal in her life. A look at the numbers shows that 80 percent of the girls who are sent to such residential facilities are guilty of misdemeanors, while only 50 percent of boys are sent for the same reason.

By placing girls in facilities more often than boys, the girls are being placed at a disadvantage. The female facilities reportedly provide fewer options for rehabilitation than what's provided for boys. And a large percentage of the girls who wind up in the system have troubling backgrounds involving sexual and/or physical abuse. Locking them up doesn't make as much sense as it would for them to get involved in community-based programs that could address their emotional and developmental growth.

Gender equality advocates and lawmakers in Maryland plan to look into this trend of the juvenile justice system further. We will post an update with any new developments regarding this matter.


The Baltimore Sun: "Girls sent to juvenile facilities for less serious offenses," Kelsey Miller, Mar. 10, 2012

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