Closing the chapter on girls’ incarceration requires that, for the first time, the justice reform field focus on systems change for girls.

Last year, Vera took an important step towards addressing these inequities by launching the New York City Task Force on Ending Girls’ Incarceration—with a collaborative of the city’s key juvenile justice and youth-serving agencies—that aims to develop a comprehensive plan to end girls’ incarceration in the five boroughs. Now, we’re committed to doing the same on a national scale. This is an ambitious but achievable goal: Despite girls’ increasing proportional representation among youth in the justice system, the absolute number of girls’ detentions nationally is relatively small, just 45,847.2 In fact, most states had fewer than 150 girls in placement on the day of the last census in 2015 and many had fewer than 50 girls in placement.3

Closing the chapter on girls’ incarceration requires that, for the first time, the justice reform field focus on systems change for girls. Today, we are proud to announce that we are expanding our Initiative to End Girls’ Incarceration to new jurisdictions that are prepared to champion the issue and pave the way for the rest of the country. We are requesting letters of interest from juvenile justice agencies seeking to participate in a jurisdiction-wide initiative to eliminate the confinement of girls and LGB/TGNC youth in female units of their juvenile justice system.

As we announce this initiative, we’re cognizant that this year’s Women’s History Month also happens to be in the midst of an extraordinary moment in the global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice. Sexual harassment, violence, and discrimination against women have catapulted our nation into a renewed national discussion about gender equality, and people around the world are mobilizing in the form of global marches and campaigns—including #MeToo and #TimesUp—to create a future that is more equal and just for women and girls. Against this backdrop, it should be noted that incarcerated girls (over 80 percent of whom are survivors of sexual violence and are often arrested for circumstances directly related to their abuse through the sexual abuse to prison pipeline)—have been largely left out of the conversation.

Vera is committed to working for a society that respects the dignity of every person and safeguards justice for everyone. It has never been clearer that these efforts must include girls and gender non-conforming youth. Learn more about our work to end girls’ incarceration.