Berkeley Law School Symposium lands media coverage for girls’ issues

On March 11, 2011, the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice hosted “African American Girls and Young Women and the Juvenile Justice System:
A Call to Action
,” believed to be the first-ever convening in the United States devoted exclusively to the well-being of African American girls and young women and the juvenile justice system. The symposium brought the voices of African American girls and young women to the fore. Advocates, activists, academics, practitioners and leaders from across the country highlighted the invisible crisis of African American girls and young women who are disproportionately incarcerated and bear the highest risk for non-stranger violence than that of any other group, including their African American male counterparts.

Nikki Jones, Associate Professor of Sociology at UC Santa Barbara, gave the Robert D. & Leslie-Kay Raven Lecture on Access to Justice, an endowed lecture that launched the two-day event.

Dr. Meda Chesney-Lind was the respondent/discussant.

Jones and Chesney-Lind co-edited Fighting for Girls: New Perspectives on Gender and Violence, published by SUNY Press last year.

From Rachel Pfeffer, writing in EthnoBlog:

Sociologist Nikki Jones of UC Santa Barbara, and Meda Chesney-Lind, University of Hawaii opened up the conference with a look at the statistics.

“No”, said Jones, “Black girls are not committing more crimes, even though they are being incarcerated in record numbers.”

“I’ve been studying this for decades,” said Chesney-Lind. She added, “We have never seen these kind of numbers before. National policies like zero tolerance are responsible for the school to prison pipeline. And a dual justice system that treats white girls differently from black girls is disproportionately impacting African American girls.”

She continued, “In 2008, we knew the arrest rate in California was 49 out of every 1,000 for black girls, 8.9 per 1,000 for white girls and 14.9 per 1,000 for Latinas.”

The message was picked up as far away as Atlanta, with a story in the Atlanta Post.

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