Young Girls Fill Courts Juvenile System Expects 171% Rise in Female Arrests
Viele, Lawrence, The Florida Times Union
DECATUR -- With their stylish coifs and painted nails, the
chatting and laughing girls clamoring for the jail director's
attention hardly look like the statistic they represent.
These girls are crammed into a DeKalb County state Regional
Youth Detention Center until their court dates. They are 30 of
the more than 1,300 girls likely to enter the state's Juvenile
Justice system this year -- a 171 percent increase since 1992.
By comparison, the number of boys incarcerated has climbed 83
"Consider how the family has changed. There used to be
certain things boys did and girls didn't. It was a sort of
social expectation," said Robert Croom, a retired Georgia State
University criminal justice professor and former chief county
probation officer. "Delinquency is an equal opportunity
While girls are more likely to go to jail or state-ordered
programs for fighting, damaging property or resisting authority,
they also are committing violent crimes and sex offenses like
their male counterparts.
"I just think we have moved away from the concept that
females only commit status-type of offenses, which would be your
runaways. We have females charged with crimes anywhere from
burglary to murder," said Mable P. Wheeler, director of the
Macon Youth Detention Center, which used to be the only
all-female youth jail in the state.
The changing face of juvenile crime has the state Department
of Juvenile Justice altering its plans. In the past two years,
the department has shifted gears to make two new prisons
all-female to accommodate the rising number of girls. While some
of the girls might go into heavily supervised community
programs, many will go to jail.
The 120-bed Pelham Youth Detention Center, which opened in
January, had been intended to house girls temporarily but now
will permanently incarcerate females. The new Emanuel County
Youth Detention Center, to open in March, will hold 168 girls. …