NEW YORK STATE GIRLS’ JUSTICE INITIATIVE (GJI)
The New York State Girls’ Justice Initiative (GJI) – a collaboration led by the New York State Unified Court System and implemented by the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children in partnership with the New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services – will address the documented criminalization of girls’ behaviors, including those related to status offenses and technical violations of probation that too often reflect trauma-induced responses, and the need to implement gender-specific, trauma-informed policies and programs for girls at-risk or involved with the juvenile justice system. In New York State, girls account for 26 percent of juvenile arrests.
GJI intends to develop a trauma-informed probation- and court-based approach for girls involved in the juvenile justice system that is informed by and involves the decision-makers at each point of contact within the juvenile justice system in partnership with the community, girls and their families. The local-level component – functioning as the incubator for the GJI – will be implemented in Westchester County and inform the state-level component to translate the findings and bring the policies and practices to scale across the state.
During the 2016-2017 planning year, the GJI will develop a 3-year implementation plan for this approach by simultaneously implementing three complementary components: 1) a research component; 2) a local county-level pilot “incubator” to test preliminary policy, practice and programmatic components; and 3) the development of a statewide implementation plan.
The Research Component: New York University
Dr. Shabnam Javdani, a full time, tenure-track faculty member in the Applied Psychology Department at New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, is the principal investigator for the research component of the grant.
The research component relies on accessing data from the Unified Court System, Department of Criminal Justice Services and Office of Children and Family Services in order to inform the local and state advisory groups of the patterns and status of girls in our juvenile justice system at each of the progressive points of contact. Given the importance of each stage and contact point, the data from each of these agencies is independently important. The research component will also identify gender-specific, trauma-informed best practices for identifying and addressing trauma, status offenses, orders of probation, technical violations of probation, and diversion at every point of contact with the justice system.
The Local Component: Westchester Girls’ Justice Initiative
Westchester County already had an established multi-disciplinary juvenile justice advisory group, convened by Supervising Judge of Family Courts in the Ninth Judicial District Judge Kathie Davidson who is interested in implementing a trauma-responsive approach for girls involved in Family Court that is informed by and incorporates the diverse stakeholders. Westchester County – the incubator for the probation- and court-based approach for girls involved in the juvenile justice system – will be a systems-wide reform effort, implementing a collaborative community-, school-, probation-, child welfare- and court-centered initiative to effectively and expeditiously respond to girls’ needs and to improve girls’ outcomes.
The Statewide Component: New York State Girls’ Justice Advisory Group
The goal of the NYS Girls’ Justice Advisory Group is to develop a 3-year statewide policy and program implementation plan that brings the results of the data analysis, best practices research and lessons learned from the local component to scale. The intent is to create recommended statewide policies, tools and practices and trainings and engage additional counties in the transformative gender-specific work.