NCCD Receives Grant to Support Research on Probation-Involved Girls in Florida and California

December 1, 2015 | NCCD


NCCD has received grant funding from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund for a two-year, in-depth look at how policy and practice relate to probation-involved girls. The two-year period will consist of research on girls in the juvenile justice systems in Duval County, Florida, and Alameda County, California, with an emphasis on improving outcomes for girls on probation. Research targeting girls in juvenile justice is scant but suggests that gender disparities in the system are largely due to system factors rather than girls’ behavior.  

Through this work, NCCD expects to fill a critical gap in local and national knowledge about effective strategies to reduce the number of girls in secure custody for low-level offenses and technical violations of probation. NCCD will partner with the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center. The project will be led by Dr. Angie Wolf, NCCD’s Director of Justice Strategies, and Vanessa Patino Lydia of the Policy Center. The project will be completed in two phases, culminating in a nationally representative longitudinal research project for local and national consumption. 

Probation is a critical opportunity to allow justice-involved youth to stay in their own homes, schools, and communities. However, many girls who violate the terms of their probation are remanded to secure custody even if their violation was for a technical (non-delinquent) reason, such as failing to appear in court or not going to school. Often, these girls find themselves in custody even though their original offense did not warrant such a harsh response, and despite the growing body of research that demonstrates both the ineffectiveness of confinement in promoting public safety and the adverse effects of confinement on young people. 

This research is a necessary step toward understanding the complexity of the juvenile justice system’s response to girls and developing recommendations that will help individual counties and the national field develop data-driven, long-term solutions for responding more effectively, reducing violations and related confinement for girls, and speeding their movement through and away from the system.