Juvenile Justice

Girls in Jail Need Beauty, Kind Words

Throughout the country, prisons are run in a paramilitary manner that seems to work for men. But it’s not nearly as effective for young women, experts believe.

So, as the number of girls in jail goes up, juvenile authorities in Illinois have been developing new kind of lock-up for young women, even those housed in the most secure facilities. The kinder, gentler detention system they have created features beauty parlors, individual hairstyles (as long as they’re not gang-related), a choice of uniform colors—and, most important, a chance to develop relationships with staff, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Staff at the maximum security prison for girls in Warrenville, Ill., are trained to listen to young inmates and try to develop relationships with them, officials say. “You’ve got to address the hurt that they’ve had, the trauma that they’ve had: sexual abuse to physical abuse to verbal abuse,” says Jeffery Bargar, superintendent of the Illinois Youth Center there. “That’s where you try to open up the door and get through to them.”

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