A Comparative Gender Analysis of Dispositioal Placements to Florida's Secure Juvenile Residential Facilities

Kristin Parsons Winokur, Florida State Univ./FL Dept. of Juv. Just
Ted Tollett, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
Sherry Jackson, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice

There has long existed the notion that girls are the beneficiaries of chivalrous treatment in juvenile justice processing. The current study evaluates gender differences within a population of youths who received severe sanctions to assess the accuracy of this notion. The study sample includes all youths in Florida sentenced to the state's highest-security level programs for their first juvenile commitment between July 1, 1994 and June 30, 1998 (n=9, 380; 958 females and 8,442 males). Analyses focus on the extent to which girls are less serious offenders than boys similarly sanctioned. The findings support the study hypothesis that girls are not treated more leniently than boys. Girls were committed for significantly less serious offenses, had less extensive prior records, were more frequently perceived as above age level in maturity, and were perceived as more aggressive, despite the less serious nature of their committing offenses and prior records. A significantly greater proportion of the girls than boys were classified as runaway risks, were residing with families perceived to be functioning poorly, were not attending school, were perceived as aggressive in school, were abusing multiple substances, and had previously attempted or threatened to commit suicide.

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Updated 05/20/2006