The Shirley Bridge Girls+Justice Initiative was seed funded in 2010 by Admiral Herb Bridge to honor his late wife, mother-in-law of CCYJ Founding President and CEO Bobbe J. Bridge. CCYJ is set to begin the in-depth research, organizational and collaborative work necessary to launch the Initiative in 2011.
Girls in our state and nation face a "glaring dearth" of prevention and treatment programs that are "appropriate, developmentally sound, culturally competent (and) gender-specific," according to a 2001 report by the American and National Bar Associations. While the overall crime rate for juveniles has been falling since 1994, the number of girls being arrested and incarcerated has been increasing, according to the 2001 report, "Justice by Gender: The Lack of Appropriate Prevention, Diversion and Treatment Alternatives for Girls in the Juvenile Justice System". The report attributes the increase primarily to changes in the response of the juvenile justice system to female offenders, rather than any discernible trend toward more violent or aggressive behavior by girls.
"Some experts have found that this growth is due in part... to the relabeling of girls' family conflicts as violent offenses, the changes in police practices regarding domestic violence and aggressive behavior, the gender bias in the processing of misdemeanor cases, and, perhaps, a fundamental systemic failure to understand the unique developmental issues facing girls today," the report said.
A 2008 Washington State report echoed those findings, noting that the number of girls held in juvenile detention tripled between 1989 and 2005 and that Washington's juvenile justice system "does not have standards of practice that are gender-sensitive to respond to the specific needs of at-risk and delinquent girls."
Justice Bridge strongly believes the issue of girls in the juvenile justice system has long begged for serious reform.
"CCYJ is uniquely positioned to address these issues," she said. "We are deeply grateful to Herb Bridge for his generosity and pleased that the memory of his wife will live on in our future work to ensure better lives for girls involved in the juvenile justice system."