McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Bernadette Gholami

Gholani.Bernadette.JPG

Major and Classification

Sociology

Faculty Mentor

  • Annalisa Enrile, Ph.D.

Department

  • School of Social Work

McNair Project

The Effects of the Juvenile Justice System on the Lives of Latinas in Los Angeles County

Abstract
This paper examines Latina female youth and their experiences in the juvenile justice system. It looks critically at their experiences and analyzes how their time spent in the system affected their lives.  With increasing number of female youths being sent into detention centers and camps it is important to find out whether they are receiving adequate help and treatment while in detention. Many studies discuss female detention centers and camps as lacking resources and have inadequate programs. This paper takes a qualitative approach to interviewing Latinas who have been in a detention center or camp about how their experiences while in camp affected their lives after release. In analyzing one respondent's interview it was revealed that there was a sense of "more of the same" in her life and this continued while in detention. A lack of difference in the way she saw life while in detention and while outside caused an apathetic view of the system. In order to help young Latinas such as her it is necessary for the juvenile justice system to change its approach of female delinquents. They must offer more diverse programs, specifically gender-specific programs and strength-based programs to help these young women turn their lives be able to re-enter society as productive citizens.