Final Report of the

Out Of Sight/Out Of Mind Task Force On Girls And The Juvenile Justice System
Commission on the Status of Women
City and County of San Francisco
Ann Lehman, Policy Analyst
Commission on the Status of Women
25 Van Ness, Suite 130
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 252-2570 Fax (4150 252-2575

Out Of Sight/Out Of Mind Task Force On Girls And The Juvenile Justice System

At its September 26, 1996, meeting, the Commissioners on the Status of Women heard a report on Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Girls in the San Francisco Juvenile System (Laurie Schaffner, Shelley Shick, Andrea Shorter, and Nancy Stein Frappier, San Francisco, CA: Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice, July 1996). This report found, like the 1992 Come Into the Sun Coalition Report before it, that the situation for girls in the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department system was grim, unfair, and continued to be in a crisis. The arrest rate for girls soared almost 50 percent since 1990, overcrowding in the detention unit is a daily humiliation, and the overall conditions for girls in detention and on probation continues to be utterly inadequate. The Commissioners decided:

  • to take an active role in promoting and facilitating the implementation of report’s recommendations; and
  • to sponsor a meeting to develop strategies for implementing recommendations.

COSW sponsored an initial strategic planning meeting on December 17, 1996, which was attended by twenty people. Attendees formed an Out of Sight/Out of Mind Task Force, staffed by COSW, to implement the recommendations of the report. The following tasks were identified as the outcomes for the Task Force: 1) Task: Develop an annotated, comprehensive inventory of girl-specific services.

2) Task: Develop a model list of girl specific criteria for evaluation programs and services for girls in the juvenile justice system.

3) Task: Develop a specific action plan for the implementation of the Report’s recommendations.

4) Task: Monitor the implementation.

The Task Force met on the second Tuesday of each month following that meeting, from 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. to strategize and advocate for girls in the juvenile justice system. The membership varied throughout its existence, consisting of representatives of local government, community agencies, and interested individuals.

Delancey Street Foundation Study/Recommendations for Re-Designing San Francisco’s Juvenile Justice System

In the Fall of 1996 a study was commissioned by Mayor Willie Brown to overhaul the San Francisco’s Juvenile Justice system and given to the Delancey Street Foundation to conduct. Staff of the Delancey Street Foundation attended Task Force meetings to both report on the Foundation’s study of the juvenile justice system, and ask Task Force members for input. Task Force members made a very strong recommendation that the study address the needs of girls and boys separately. Other Task Force recommendations addressed the importance of diversion programs to provide alternatives to incarceration, training and policies to improve Juvenile Probation staff sensitivity to girls’ needs and issues, creative intervention and prevention strategies, gender equity in programs provided and services offered, treatment for survivors of violence and abuse, training programs (GED, job training, life skills) and support groups to develop resiliency, autonomy, and self-esteem for girls.

In March of 1997, many of the recommendations from the Out of Sight/Out of Mind report and Task Force recommendations were included in the Delancey Street Foundation’s comprehensive "Juvenile Justice Action Plan" (Dr. Mimi Silbert for the Mayor’s Criminal Justice Council, San Francisco, CA, March 1997). The Mayor endorsed the plan. The Task Force, while pointing out some concerns, was very supportive of its contents and proposals. The Task Force also continued to advocate for the implementation of gender-specific services for girls in the upcoming reform of the San Francisco Juvenile Justice Probation System.

Task Force members gave testimony at the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Commission public hearing to review the Action Plan in August, 1997 and expressed some concerns. In Summer of 1997, Task Force members met with Delancey Street Foundation and Supervisor Susan Leal to discuss the implementation of the Action Plan. As a result of this meeting, Dr. Mimi Silbert, who was charged with the implementation of the Plan, agreed to include Task Force members’ participation on each implementation teams as follows:

  4. SAFE HAVEN (Betty Houston Ricks)
  5. SAFE CORRIDOR (Julie Posadas)

Task Force members participated on each of these teams, giving input about girls needs and advocating, for gender specific programs.

Gender Specific Criteria

In September, 1997 the Task Force also sponsored an excellent presentation to the community by Dr. Barbara Bloom & Dr. Barbara Owen (Co-Principal Investigators of the OCJP entitled Modeling Gender - Specific Services in Juvenile Justice, and authors of a three-year study of women prisoners Profiling the Needs of California’s Female Prisoners) on their innovative work on gender specific criteria for girls’ programs and services in the juvenile justice system. The ideas from this presentation, in part, led to Task Force members’ advocacy with the Juvenile Probation Commission. Task Force members’ testified at a Juvenile Probation Commission Program Committee meeting in March of 1998 on the need for more gender specific girls’ services and in-house training. Following the hearing, the Juvenile Probation Department completed its first Request for Proposals and signed contracts that included gender specific criteria for girls services.

Juvenile Justice Commission Ombudsman Project

The Task Force also sponsored a discussion of the Juvenile Justice Commission Ombudsman Project Report. The Task Force was fortunate to have representatives of both the report’s author (Ginger Ingersoll) and the Juvenile Probation Department (Janet Medina, Cheyenne Bell and Maria Luna) present to answer questions from Task Force members on the Role of Ombudsman for girls. The major grievances that Ombudsman worked on for girls centered around food, hygiene, staff, bathroom privileges, and ventilation. The Superior Court had funded a part-time student for the Ombudsman position through the end of the 1997. The Task Force recommended that the Juvenile Probation Department considering including this Ombudsman position in their annual budget; this is under contemplation.


As the work of the task force wound down members brainstormed with a number of different organizations to explore areas for cooperation, overlap, sharing information, and collaboration in the future. These included:

  • Come into the Sun (Joyce Miller)
  • For Girls Coalition (Julie Posadas)
  • COSW’s Adult and Sexual Assault Task Force (Rosario Navarrette)
  • COSW’s Task Force on the Sexual Assault of Girls and Young Women (Rosario Navarrette)

Out of these discussions emerged four major issues of overlap and concern: 1) Girls’ Services - Come Into the Sun is in process of updating a previous list of girls’ services. This new list is expected to be completed in 1998. This was one of the original goals of the Task Force.

2) City and County of San Francisco gender funding parity for girls and boys - The COSW’s Task Force on the Sxual Assualt of Girls and Young Women is working with the Mayor’s Office on this issue and will continue to follow-up with the Mayor’s Office on Youth, Children and Families report and work in this area.

3) Action Plan Implementation Team - Each team except the residential girls treatment team has concluded its work. The residential team is still meeting.

4) Status of Girls Report - COSW has drafted an initial report on the status of girls in San Francisco. A full study of girls’ needs is still essential.

As a final project the Task Force produced a fact sheet (see attached) to include statistics on young women in the juvenile justice system and put together binders with six studies detailing the research on gender specific criteria for girls’ programs and staff training. These binders will be distributed to each of the Commissions dealing with girls’ issues (Juvenile Probation Commission, Juvenile Justice Commission, Delinquency Prevention Commission, Mayor’s Office on Children, Youth, and their Families, Youth Commission). The following material is included. 1) Out of Sight, Out of Mind: The Plight of Adolescent Girls in the San Francisco Juvenile Justice System, by Laurie Schaffner, Shelley Shick and Andrea D. Shorter and Nancy Stein Frappier for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (1996), Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, 1622 Folosom Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103;

2) Reports on Girls in the Juvenile Justice System: Prevention and Parity-Girls in Juvenile Justice, by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and Girls, Incorporated (1996), Girls Inc. National Resource Center, 441 West Michigan Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202 (317) 634-7546;

3) Profiling the Needs of Young Female Offenders: Final Report to the Executive Committee, California Youth Authority, by Barbara Owen, Ph.D. and Barbara Bloom, Ph. D. (1997), Barbara Owen, Ph.d.,(209) 278-5715, Barbara Bloom, Ph.D. (707) 778-7270;

4) Defining Gender-Specific: What Does it Mean and Why is it Important? , by Barbara Bloom, Ph. D. (1997), (707) 778-7270;

5) Gender Specific Services Work Group, A Report to the Governor: Moving Towards Juvenile Justice and Youth-Serving Systems that Address the Distinct Experience of the Adolescent Female, by Joanne Belknap, Ph.D., Melissa Dunn and Kristi Holsinger. (1997), Office of Criminal Justice Services, 11177 Reading Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45241 (513) 563-5500;

6) Come Into the Sun: Findings and Recommendations on the Needs of Women and Girls in the Justice System, by the members of the Come Into the Sun Coalition (1992), Delinquency Prevention Commission, 1095 Market Street, Suite 201, San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 554-7630.


SF Commission on the Status of Women
Fact Sheet, June 1998

Out of Sight/Out of Mind Task Force
Facts on Girls in Juvenile Justice System

  • Nationally, girls’ arrests comprise 25 percent of all juvenile arrests (Girls Inc. 1996:1). This reflects a 32 percent increase in girls’ arrests between 1984 and 1993 (Schaffner et al 1996:3).
  • In San Francisco, girls’ offense bookings for all offenses jumped 121 percent from 1990 to 1994 (Schaffner et al 1996:5).
  • In San Francisco, girls spend more time at Juvenile Hall than boys do because there are few other options available. The average stay for 80% of the boys was under 3 days; only 28% of the girls are released in 3 days (Schaffner et al 1996:5).
  • In San Francisco, detention referrals for girls jumped 47 percent from 1990 to 1994. (The comparable rate for boys during this period declined 11 percent.) (Schaffner et. al. 1996:5)
  • A disproportionate number of females are referred to juvenile probation departments for status and other nonviolent offenses compared to their male counterparts (Girls Inc. 1996:27).
  • Girls run away from home at a higher rate than boys, and are arrested for curfew and loitering violations more often than boys (Girls Inc. 1996:3).
  • Fifty-seven percent of juvenile arrests for running away (a status offense) are girls (Snyder and Sickmund 1995:2).
  • It is estimated that 70 percent of girls in the juvenile justice system have histories of abuse (Owen and Bloom 1997:8), compared to estimated rates of abuse for the teenage female population as a whole (approximately 25 percent) (Stock et. al. 1997:200).
  • One nationwide study conducted by the American Correctional Association of girls in juvenile correctional facilities found that 61 percent of girls had been physically abused and 54 percent had been sexually abused (ACA 1990).

For more info: COSW, 25 Van Ness # 130, SF, CA 94102 (415) 252-2570, or