Over the last decade, successful reforms have reduced the number of youth in juvenile custody by 50 percent nationwide—largely by sharply reducing confinement for low-risk offenses. However, despite the fact that the vast majority of girls are still incarcerated for behavior that poses no public safety risk, girls’ incarceration is declining at a slower rate than boys’. Addressing these disparities is a particularly urgent need for girls of color and LGBT/gender non-conforming (GNC) youth who disproportionately bear the burdens of incarceration. However, the juvenile justice field systematically lacks strategies to keep girls out of custody.

Vera is partnering with New York City to end girls’ incarceration locally and to create a model for ending girls’ incarceration around the country.

Project Objectives

  • Vera will support New York City in ending girls’ confinement by improving systemic and programmatic responses to girls, young women, and trans/GNC youth.

  • Vera will lead a multi-agency task force to develop consensus-based reform strategies to disrupt the pathways that lead to girls’ arrests and incarceration.

  • Vera will engage girls and young women within the reform process to leverage their expertise in designing reforms that best meet their needs. 

Key Fact

The misdemeanor arrest rate for black girls in New York City is more than 20x higher than that of white girls; the rate for Latinas is six times higher than that of white girls.