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Times have changed since the 1930s, and girls’ experiences in the criminal justice system have too. Yet echoes of my grandmother’s time remain. According to the report “The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline,” published by the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, the Ms. Foundation for Women and Rights4Girls, girls in the criminal justice system are disproportionately victims of sexual violence. In addition, like my grandmother and her fellow female juvenile inmates across America in 1935, girls often enter the criminal justice system for minor status offenses like running away, truancy and curfew violations that are themselves responses to abuse. Although girls account for only 15 percent of the juvenile detention population, they are 38 percent of the youth detained for status offenses.

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