1st Edition

Gendered Injustice Uncovering the Lived Experience of Detained Girls

By Anastasia Tosouni Copyright 2019
    218 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Without strong proof, policy advocates along with some scholars have causally linked declines in juvenile offending and incarceration with evidence-based and rehabilitation-oriented policy reform. Such studies have called for a shift back to rehabilitative ideals augmented by innovative strategies that emphasize cultures of care, and in the cases of system-involved girls, ‘gender-responsive’ programs, anchored in feminist literature. These programs have also caught the attention of feminist scholars who cast doubt on both their design and implementation. Gendered Injustice offers a unique contribution to the latter line of scholarship, and critically examines claims of innovation, empowerment, and gender-responsivity in youth correction that currently dominate the field.

    Drawing on rich ethnographic data, this book uncovers the reality of, and gives voice to, the experiences and continued mistreatment of marginalized girls housed in locked institutions in the US State of California. By providing detailed insight into the detention experiences and the pathways of several young women, this book draws stark comparisons between the lived experience of young women in detention with the official rhetoric of empowerment that dominates public discourse. This book reveals the ways in which institutional policies and practices are designed to neglect and, in many instances, re-victimize inmates.

    This is essential reading for those engaged in corrections, juvenile justice, gender and crime, and feminist criminology.



    1. Prologue: Juvenile Justice – Promises Made

    2. This Study

    Part I: Deprivation as Intervention

    3. Disconnection as Intervention

    4. Suppression as Intervention

    5. Abuse as Intervention

    Part II: Programming as if Girls Do Not Matter

    6. We’re all hurting: Blame-Therapy as Intervention

    7. She tells us who we are: Empowerment, Juvenile Hall-Style

    8. Epilogue: Promises Broken

    Appendix A: A List of Participants

    Appendix B: Subject #29 – Anastasia

    Appendix C: Copy Letter of Detained Girl



    Anastasia Tosouni is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies at Sonoma State University. Dr. Tosouni earned her Ph.D. in Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California at Irvine, and a Law Degree (LLB) from the University of Athens, Greece. She has experience counseling and advocating for victims of family violence. Her areas of academic specialization include law and inequality; race and gender; juvenile delinquency; restorative justice and social justice.

    "This book successfully unravels the many family and social issues that affect troubled young girls, especially when they are held in detention facilities. When treatment is advocated and applied, then the trouble begins. Parents and practitioners often miss the source of the problem, because they fail to interview the child in an in-depth fashion. Professor Tossouni has gathered an array of evidence that taps into the "voices" of the girls, evidence that eventually helps formulate and direct interventions. In short, a human problem must involve the individuals who are central to the problem and watching them, talking to them, and listening to them is essential to understanding them, all of which are strengths of a qualitative approach."

    J. Diego Vigil, Professor Emeritus, Criminology, Law & Society, School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine

    "Grounded in feminist research Gendered Injustice gives marginalised girls hidden in the recesses of the juvenile detention a voice. It recounts stories of victimhood, abandonment, pain, isolation, but also stories of survival, resilience and hope. It explores the gap between rhetoric and reality, between saving and punishing children, and between restoring and destroying children in detention. Based on the stories of 28 girls in detention, Gendered Injustice highlights the devastating impact of the deprivation of liberty – of the daily routines of authoritarian rituals and the systemic failure to provide basic safeguards against physical and emotional abuse. The meticulously crafted study, upon which the book is based, juxtaposes claims about gender sensitive interventions designed to empower and rehabilitate girls involved in juvenile detention, with the actual reality of life inside, arguing forcefully that custodial settings are incongruent with empowerment programs. On the contrary, this book reveals just how much penal culture disempowers rather than empowers girls in detention through regimes that demand unquestioned subservience and docility, individualise their delinquency and reinforce gender normative ideas about womanhood. What is needed, insists Anastasia Tosouni, is gender justice. This book makes an innovative contribution to debates about gender and justice. It should appeal to a wide readership of students, policy makers, activists and scholars from social science, youth studies, social work, law, psychology, criminology, and gender studies."

    Kerry Carrington, Professor and Head of the School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology, Australia