This course looks at the history of girls within the juvenile justice system—including forced sterilization, racial segregation, institutional labor, and domestic servitude—and considers the ways in which that history remains pressingly relevant today. Among the questions to be considered: Who is the “incorrigible” girl past and present? How do cultural norms for “appropriately feminine behavior” continue to influence the experience of girls within the legal system? Given that a high percentage of girls enter the system as victims of sexual and physical abuse, why are they confined for their own “protection” while perpetrators remain free? We will research past and present trends used to identify, adjudicate and reform the “troubled girl.” More than a century past the creation of early industrial schools for immoral girls and sexual delinquents, we will interrogate the continued invisibility of incarcerated girls.
- Episode 8. “I Want Someone to Love Me Even for a Second.” WNYC Studios.
- Delinquent Daughters: Protecting and Policing Adolescent Female Sexuality in the United States 1885-1920. Mary Odem.
- Girls, Delinquency and Juvenile Justice. Meda Chesney-Lind and Lisa J. Pasko.
- Girls Injustice. Richard Ross.
- Tales of Wayward Girls and immoral Women: Case Records and the Professionalization of Social Work. Karen Tice.
- The Delinquent Girl. Edited by Margaret A. Zahn.
Supplemental Articles and Dissertations
- “A Grave Injustice: Institutional Terror at the State Industrial Home for Negro Girls and the Paradox of Juvenile Delinquent Reform in Missouri, 1888-1960.” LeRoy Rowe
- “Female Juvenile Delinquency and the Problem of Sexual Authority in America, 1945-1965.” Rachel Devlin. Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities. 9, issue 1, Article 3.
- “Gender Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System.” Honorable Chandlee Johnson Kuhn
- “Gender Injustice System-Level Juvenile Justice Reform for Girls.” Francine T. Sherman and Annie Balck National Crittenton Foundation and National Women’s Law Center.
- “Lost girls: Young women face harsher punishment in Maryland’s juvenile justice system.” Erica L. Green, Baltimore Sun.
- “The Missouri Home for Negro Girls: The 1930s.” G. Kremer., and L. Gibbens. American Studies, Vol. 24, no. 2, Sept. 1983.
- “The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story.” Human Rights Project for Girls, Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, Ms. Foundation for Women.
Sheila O’Connor is the author of six books, including her most recent hybrid novel, Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts and Fictions (Rose Metal Press). Inspired by her maternal grandmother’s incarceration as a pregnant fifteen-year-old in 1935, Evidence of V combines imagination and archival documents to shed light on the history of committing “immoral” girls. Sheila is a professor in the Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University where she serves as fiction editor for Water~Stone Review.