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While national law has moved toward recognizing the dilemma posed by a growing number of girls entering a juvenile justice system ill-equipped to address their needs, the current voluntary standards have not been sufficient in encouraging many jurisdictions to improve their services for the female juvenile population. National lawmakers should create greater incentives and provide stricter guidelines, encouraging facilities to implement gender-specific programming.

Considering the overwhelming number of traumatized and sexually abused girls who enter the juvenile justice system, it is unconscionable to deprive them of their liberty while also denying them access to counseling and treatment. State legislatures must evaluate the effectiveness of the services provided to girls in state detention facilities and allocate funding for the development of appropriate programs and the hiring and training of staff. In addition, states should move toward exercising the “least restrictive alternative” by exploring community-based alternatives to incarceration. Community-based alternatives can move the United States away from a trend of over-incarceration of girls and closer to meeting both nationally and internationally prescribed goals of rehabilitation

-Excerpt from: The Gender Gap: Treatment of Girls in the U.S. Juvenile Justice System

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