Disparity based on sex: Is gender-specifÏc treatment warranted?

Kimberly Kempf-Leonard, Lisa L. Sample

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


This paper addresses gender-specific treatment in juvenile justice Processing, an important topic in view of new funding opportunities to develop female-specific programs. This topic is controversial and includes many unresolved issues. To provide context, we relate this study to lessons from the initiative to address disproportionate minority confinement: that it is impossible to understand confinement without understanding the process by which youths are confined, that structural and demographic traits facilitate the process, and that benevolent interventions can have unintended negative consequences. We present empirical findings that juvenile justice cases are “gendered,” but that court treatment of those cases shows more gender similarities than differences. In contrast, interviews with officials suggest large gender gaps in opportunities for services, and indicate some gender biases. Bias and disparity also are themes among delinquent and “at-risk” girls who participated in focus groups; in addition, girls expressed preferences for treatment comparable to that given to boys. Finally, we evaluate what has been advocated as female-specific programming and recommend how best to proceed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-128
Number of pages40
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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