, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 355-366

Delinquent Girls Grown Up: Young Adult Offending Patterns and Their Relation to Early Legal, Individual, and Family Risk

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Abstract

Although the number of girls served by the juvenile justice system has grown dramatically, little is known about the adult offending patterns of delinquent girls and the factors associated with their persistence and desistance from adult crime. To address this gap, we prospectively track 499 girls (62% Black, 16% Hispanic) discharged from juvenile justice facilities in the early 1990s and document their adult arrests, convictions, and incarcerations between the ages of 16–28. Trajectory analysis reveals four distinct early adult offending paths: Rare/Non-Offending (RN), Low Chronic (LC), Low-Rising (LR), and High Chronic (HC). Girls assigned to the LR and LC path are responsible for a disproportionate amount of adult arrests and are more likely than girls on the RN and LC path to come from homes characterized by high levels of family dysfunction and child maltreatment. Adoption of a therapeutic, trauma-sensitive and family-centered approach to female delinquency programming is recommended.