Disproportionate Representation of Girls in the Juvenile Justice System

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Disproportionate Representation of Girls in the Juvenile Justice System

While Illinois girls were underrepresented at all stages in the juvenile justice system, their arrests, admissions to detention, and commitments to corrections were statistically more likely to be for less serious offenses.

Illinois girls were underrepresented in the juvenile justice system, which coincides with national trends. Based on their proportion of the population, girls were, on average, 80 percent less likely than their male counterparts to be involved with the juvenile justice system. Most studies(20) have shown that girls' offending patterns are much different from their male counterparts in terms of severity, duration, frequency of offending, and type of offending.(21)

Relative Rate Ratios of Girls' Disproportionality

In order to assess male and female proportionalities at each stage of the juvenile justice system (independent of one another), relative rate ratios (RRRs) were calculated. These ratios compare the rate of juvenile female offenders to juvenile male offenders. An RRR of 1 indicates equal representation at that justice stage. An RRR below 1 indicates an under-representation of girls. Rates used in RRR calculations were calculated per 1,000 girls/boys ages 10 to 16 in the population for arrest and detention, and ages 13 to 16 for corrections. Data available does not allow for an individual to be linked across the different stages. Therefore, the RRRs for each stage must be interpreted independent of the other stages.

At each stage of the juvenile justice system, girls were underrepresented, as shown in Table 16.

Table 16
Relative rate ratios for arrests, admissions to detention and commitments to IDOC by gender, 2007*

Girls Boys
Total Rate RRR Total Rate RRR
Arrest 10,548 17.22 0.295 37,472 58.37 -
Detention 2,677 4.37 0.215 13,069 20.36 -
Corrections* 193 0.54 0.132 1,535 4.07 -

Source: Authority's CHRI Ad Hoc datasets, Juvenile Monitoring Information System, Illinois Department of Corrections.
* Corrections data for FY05 through FY07 were unavailable; 2004 was used.

In 2007, girls were 70 percent less likely to be arrested and 79 percent less likely to be detained than their male counterparts. In 2004, the last year for which IDOC data were available, girls were 87 percent less likely to be incarcerated.