This research was funded in part by a research fellowship from the University of Cincinnati's Research Council. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2000 annual meetings of the American Society of Criminology in San Francisco, California. The authors wish to thank Patricia Van Voorhis, Peg Bortner, Lois Presser, and Courtney Sears for their critical feedback on earlier drafts of this article. Any shortcomings, however, are entirely due to the authors. We are also grateful to the staff at the prison studied who agreed to take part in this research. We are in the greatest debt to the young women who told us their stories, which were often painful, sometimes humorous, and always powerful and insightful.
TENUOUS BORDERS: GIRLS TRANSFERRED TO ADULT COURT*
Article first published online: 7 MAR 2006
Volume 40, Issue 3, pages 481–517, August 2002
How to Cite
GAARDER, E. and BELKNAP, J. (2002), TENUOUS BORDERS: GIRLS TRANSFERRED TO ADULT COURT. Criminology, 40: 481–517. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.2002.tb00964.x
Emily Gaarder is a doctoral student in Justice Studies at Arizona State University. She earned her Master's degree in Women's Studies from the University of Cincinnati. She has worked extensively with at-risk and imprisoned youth in a variety of settings. Her research and activist pursuits involve restorative justice, environmental justice, and girls in the criminal justice system. She is currently doing work on feminist/ecological ethics and anarchist ideologies in restorative justice.
Joanne Belknap received a Ph.D. degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology from Michigan State University in 1986. She is Professor in Sociology at the University of Colorado. She has numerous scholarly publications, most of which involve violence against women and female offenders. She is currently working on research projects assessing the court processing of woman battering cases and experiences of delinquent girls. The second edition of her book, The Invisible Woman: Gender, Crime, and Justice, was published in 2001. Dr. Belknap is the recipient of the 1997 national award “Distinguished Scholar of the Division on Women and Crime” of the American Society of Criminology and the University of Colorado teaching award for 2001.
- Issue published online: 7 MAR 2006
- Article first published online: 7 MAR 2006
- Delinquent girls;
- court waivers;
- feminist theory;
- life course
There are tremendous gaps in our theories and knowledge about girls who have committed crimes deemed so serious as to justify adult sentencing. This study is guided by a feminist approach to “give voice” to 22 girls incarcerated in a women's prison in the Midwest. Through in-depth interviews, the girls describe their lives before prison and their perceptions of being tried and convicted as adults. Consistent with other research on female offenders, these girls reported lives fraught with violence and victimization, sexism, racism, and economic marginalization. This study calls for a more careful and complex look at issues of victimization, agency, and responsibility among female offenders, particularly those proclaimed “adults” by the legal system.